News
August 27, 2010
Seek Planning permission first before building – Housing Minister

Persons looking to begin construction of their homes or just wishing to renovate an existing property are urged to seek permission from the Physical Planning Division before doing so.{{more}}

The call was made by Minister of Housing, Saboto Caesar, during a press conference last Tuesday, August 24.

“Sometimes some persons take shortcuts in not coming directly to Physical Planning,” Caesar said.

“The issue is heavily steeped in geography, because while I may have built my house on a piece of land, I may not have taken the time to realize that above it is a boulder, or I may not have done a survey of the parameters of the area I am going to build on,” he continued.

Caesar added that he thought the Physical Planning Division was doing a good job and called for more cooperation between the entity and the general public.

“Once you don’t see physical planning as a police walking around with a big stick, then we can all benefit,” the Minister contended.

He added that there needed to be a closer working partnership between members of the general public and planning.

“Because what may appear as a shortcut to you today may turn out to be a disaster if you don’t utilize the physical planning’s expertise.”

Anthony Bowman, Town Planner within the Planning Division, said that the issue was of “paramount importance.”

“When someone puts in an application to build on a site, the unit visits the site and makes a rational decision as to what kind of structure can be built there,” Bowman explained.

He added that it was not a case where Planning was intentionally trying to prevent a person from providing shelter for themselves or their families, but that in most cases the location is dangerous and persons may have gone ahead and started building without Planning’s approval.

Bowman explained that this may have occurred as a result of Planning itself not following up and doing its job by intervening on the construction process, or “persons take the high road and say that this is my property, this is my land and who are you to tell me what to do there.”

In cases where Planning intervenes on a property where construction has begun without permission, they reserve the right to demolish, as has occurred before, Bowman said.

The word now is that Planning is changing the way in which it is doing business.

Bowman said that the desired aim was to “take Planning to every nook and cranny” throughout the country.

He said that Planning Desks will soon be set up in four rural districts: Georgetown and Barrouallie on the mainland, and Bequia and Union Island in the Grenadines.

This is in an attempt to ensure that persons can interface better with Planning rather than having to journey into capital Kingstown and to allow for a quicker turn around time with respect to persons who have submitted applications for approvals to go ahead with construction.

Bowman also spoke of the addition of six planning officers, bringing the number to 8, which he admitted was still a low number, but the Division is bent on deterring persons from erecting structures in unsafe areas. (DD)