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Developers in the public interest? The role of urban development corporations in the Anglophone Caribbean

David Dodman

Journal article

Urban centres in the Caribbean face a wide variety of infrastructural and planning
challenges. One of the key strategies that has been adopted by national governments to
address these challenges is the formation of urban development corporations. These are
governmental agencies with powers to facilitate urban regeneration in specific areas.

This paper examines the history, role and function of urban development corporations in
Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Urban Development
Corporation (UDC) was formed in Jamaica in 1968, the St John’s Development Company
(SJDC) in Antigua and Barbuda was created in 1986, and the Urban Development
Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) was established in 1994. These bodies
share the characteristic of having far-reaching planning and development powers within
specific areas. For example, the SJDC is able ‘to acquire, manage, or dispose of lands and
to lay out, construct, and maintain roads, buildings, public parks, piers, car parks, and other
public amenities’ within specified designated areas, whilst Jamaica’s UDC is empowered
‘to carry out and/or secure the laying out and development of “designated areas”.
three urban development corporations can be seen to act as developers in the public
interest, as agents of modernisation, and as responses to neoliberalisation. However, whilst
they have succeeded in effecting large-scale transformations to the urban landscape, this
has often been achieved through a top-down development process with exemption

Publication information

  • External: X00016
  • Published: Mar 2008 - Royal Geogrphical Society
  • Area: Caribbean
  • Theme: Urban
  • Source pub: The Geographical Journal
  • Journal ref: Volume 174, Issue 1, pages 30–44
  • Language: English

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Dodman, D. (2008). "Developers in the public interest? The role of urban development corporations in the Anglophone Caribbean." The Geographical Journal 174(1), pages 30-44.