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Government accused of short-sighted approach to historical buildings

Under threat: Montpelier was the official residence of the Deputy Governor but has been derelict since 2018 (File photograph)

The Government has neglected some historical buildings to such a degree that they are beyond repair and have to be knocked down, it has been claimed.

The Bermuda National Trust made the allegation after it was revealed that plans to refurbish the former official residence of the Deputy Governor had been put on the back burner by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.

Last week, Colonel Burch said that the project was not a priority and that his ministry’s limited resources had to be spent on essential items such as infrastructure repairs.

But a spokeswoman for the BNT described that view yesterday as short-sighted.

The spokeswoman added that the property – Montpelier in Devonshire – had been empty for six years and was at risk of being bulldozed if renovations were not carried out soon.

The spokeswoman said: “Montpelier is a listed building that can still be restored, but if neglected for much longer it may deteriorate to the point it cannot be saved.

“This not only means a loss of Bermuda's cultural heritage, it does not make economic sense in the long run.

“It would surely be a better management of public resources to renovate the property and recoup the cost by renting it, if Government has no immediate use for it, or to sell the property to someone who will restore it while it is still salvageable.

“The BNT is concerned that a number of historical buildings owned by Government have been left empty and neglected – sometimes to the point that they become beyond repair and are demolished, like Watlington House, or under of threat of demolition, like Wantley.

“Other historical buildings in a derelict state include the old Supreme Court building and St George's police station.”

Watlington House, which has ties to National Hero Mary Prince, was demolished earlier this year.

The bulldozers were set to move in as early as 2021, but the building was initially saved after the BNT highlighted the historical significance of the structure.

The property was eventually knocked down in March – but only after it had been deemed unsafe in the wake of years of neglect, according to the BNT.

Colonel Burch did not respond to the allegations by press time.

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Published July 18, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated July 18, 2023 at 7:42 am)

Government accused of short-sighted approach to historical buildings

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