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Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins is disputing a claim made by the president of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lalu Vaswani, that members of the private sector have been experiencing inordinate delays in having their plans processed, on account of “bureaucracy” in the Town Planning Department.

Cummins says it is inaccurate to say that his department is holding up major private sector projects that can generate employment and economic development.

“Thirty-five per cent of applications submitted to this department are returned to applicants for additional information. This situation would give the impression that the Town Planning Department was holding up applications because applicants can say that ‘we sent in our applications on such a date’ without explaining that additional information was sought by the Department,” he told members of the Press this week.

Giving further details on his department’s interaction with the private sector, the Chief Town Planner said: “On our initiative last year, the Department started meeting with the BCCI on a quarterly basis and we put the ball in their court.

“We asked them to set the agendas and bring any issues they were experiencing to the table. We had two meetings last year and in my view no major issues were raised.

“This year I wrote Vaswani suggesting that we should continue discussions. We scheduled a meeting for last week at their request, but it was postponed at their request,” Cummins said.

He added that a meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, was yet to be confirmed.

“I do not know of any projects as purported by Vaswani that are being held up by the bureaucracy of the Town Planning Department.”

Cummins went on to identify a number of major projects that were currently engaging the attention of officers of the department.

Among them, the proposed cruise terminal on Trevor’s Way, The City; the marina on Bay Street; the Bushy Park Development in St Philip; the Waste To Energy plant for the Sanitation Service Authority; the Barbados Cane Industry Corporation for the Single Factory Option at Andrews and a housing development at the Ridge, Christ Church, for the erection of 749 houses.

The senior Government officer stressed that one of the major challenges confronting his department was with the quality of
information submitted.

Citing statistics to bear out his argument that the department has always sought to facilitate development in the country, Cummins disclosed that between January 2003 and October 2013, the Department received 34,649 applications, completed 32,419, representing a 94 per cent rate of completion.

He went on to say that 29,130 applications or 84 per cent received planning permission while 3,289 or only 9.4 per cent were denied
planning permission.

“So while we hear of grave delays at the department, last year of the applications received 57 per cent were completed within four months. However, we have set ourselves a target of 75 per cent. Thirty-five per cent of the applications received by the department are returned for additional information. We usually give applicants an additional 28 days to correct any deficiencies in information supplied,” Cummins explained.

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