Tuesday, February 20, 2018

‘Community members have a say if you want to build’

Planning Bill piloted in Senate...

Developers seeking to build in an area will have to give notice to members of the community, who will then have a say in whether or not the developer is allowed to construct.

This is one of the provisions of the new Planning and Facilitation of Development Bill, which was pilo­ted in the Senate yesterday by Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie.

“If you are a developer and you plan a development in a community where other persons live, you would have to give a notice and people would have an opportunity to have their say in the development process. This is very important to the democratic process.

“It is not only that we are decentralising, it is not only that we are devolving authority, power and decision making, but we are bringing the community actively into the democratic participatory process,” Tewarie said.

Government hoped all buildings would be caught in the net, he said, adding that people often said the process was too slow and opaque and therefore much development had taken place outside of the regulatory framework.

“There are many, many buildings built without any recourse whatsoever to Town and Country Planning and the planning process. But that is precisely because of the dysfunctionality of the system.

“What we hope... is to move forward... with everyone being caught in the net as part of an approved planning process,” he said.

“And we will make the necessary decisions to deal with those people who have not been brought into the system.”

He said the Government will create the conditions in which these people can either be accommodated “as is” or make the necessary adjustments, if so required.

Stating people had complained the system of planning approval was corrupt and unfair, Tewarie said the bill would create a transparent, unfair system in which every­one would be equal before the rules and the law. “And in that situation, if you break the law, you pay the penalty,” he said. 

Tewarie said he suspected almost 80 per cent of the applications which now come to Town and Country Planning would go to the Local Government authorities under the new Planning and Facilitation of Development Bill.

He said the bill would also consider heritage in the planning process. It establishes third-party right—community and citizen rights.

“You can’t just develop without regard for the feeling and thinking of people just because you have the land and the money,” he said.