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Developing land

It is relatively common knowledge that where one wishes to develop land in any way, an application must be made to the office of the Chief Town Planner (what Barbadians affectionately refer to as “Town Planning”. Pursuant to section 16 of the Town and Country Planning Act, Cap. 240 the CTP may either grant or refuse the permission for development sought in the application subject to any conditions he thinks fit. In coming to his decision, the CTP is required to have reference to the provisions of the Physical Development Plan (PDP) in so far as applicable. The Crown /Government is bound by the terms of the Act like any other person.

The first PDP for Barbados was published in 1970 and came fully into operation in 1976. The current PDP (Amended) 2003 was confirmed by Parliamentary Resolution in 2007.The PDP is intended to be a living document reviewed at least every five years to monitor amongst other things “changes in key demographic and economic characteristics” to ensure that “the objectives and policy directions established remain realistic and appropriate with regard to changing social [and]economic….circumstances.”

The PDP is the document referred to in section 6 of the Act which provides for the CTP’s proposals for the “the sites of proposed roads, public and other buildings and works, air-fields, parks, pleasure grounds, nature reserves and other open spaces; (b) [allocation of] areas of land for use for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial or other purposes of any class specified in the plan;(c) [designation] as land subject to compulsory acquisition by the Crown or providing for the relocation of population or industry or the replacement of open space in the course of the development or re-development of any other area; or any other purpose specified in the plan.”

In section 13 the term development is defined as “carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under any land, the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land or the sub-division of land”. Interestingly enough the section goes on to provide that for the avoidance of doubt, “the deposit of refuse or waste materials on land involves a material change in the use thereof, notwithstanding that the land is comprised in a site already used for that purpose,” in specified circumstances.

Clause 2.5.2 of the PDP Amended 2003 provides that persons applying for permission to develop among other things “waste management facilities other than facilities for initial sorting or processing of source separated dry recyclables; iii) waste disposal sites, mining operations, applications for initial construction of or expansions to ….highways, airports, seaports, wharves, marinas or jetties…” require the preparation and submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment which should be accessible to the public.

The conduct of the Assessment is not left to the person applying for planning permission but rather is overseen by the Environmental Impact Assessment Panel which formulates the terms of reference, processes the assessment, reviews the design, monitors the operations and provides advice to the CTP.

Where one goes off on a tangent and either develops land without the permission of the CTP or fails to comply with any of the conditions attached to his permission, the CTP may issue an enforcement notice within four years from the date of the disputed development. Where an enforcement notice is issued and pursued to completion it can end in tears for the developer and have such penalties including but not limited to the demolition of any building constructed without permission or a criminal conviction in Magistrate’s court.

When all is said and done the Minister responsible for Town Planning may issue a development order pursuant to his powers under section 15 of the Act either granting permission for development of such area as specified or directing the CTP to issue permission. If such matters in any way fall within one’s ministerial portfolio, a cursory reading of the Act and the PDP should be par for the course.

When all is said and done, the whole B’s Recycling issue leaves me mystified and has spawned litigation that should have been unnecessary.

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