While travelling through the streets of old Spanish Town, visitors are greeted by the echoes of a city slowly decaying with the passage of time. Less than a decade ago, the town was labelled the ‘Valley of Death’ due to the flare-up of violence. Now, this appropriately describes the prolonged decline of Jamaica’s former capital, with the town becoming synonymous with urban blight.
Blight has not only consumed the town’s centre but has also served as a tapestry that documents the erosion of community social cohesion. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has repeatedly emphasised the need for the urban renewal of our nation’s town centres. With his appointment of Pearnel Charles Jr as the minister for housing, urban renewal, environment, and climate change, the prime minister has reaffirmed his commitment to achieving that objective. Given that Spanish Town has been the epicentre of Jamaica’s tragic urban history, there are numerous opportunities for the implementation of sustainable community development.