Judge issues stern warning to Chief Town Planner
A High Court judge Friday issued a timely reminder that it is not for this country’s Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins to decide who actually receives planning permission.
This was in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Six Men’s Plantation in St Peter back in 2008 by former Chief Town Planner Leonard St Hill, who passed away earlier this month.
In it, St Hill had accused Cummins of refusing to permit the claimant to develop his 210 acres of agricultural land and to subdivide it for the purposes of a quarry, hotels, residential, institutional, recreational, open space and heritage.
However, delivering her judgment Friday, Madame Justice Jacqueline Cornelius ruled that Cummins had acted in excess of his jurisdiction by dealing with the application as if it were submitted for his determination and consideration.
She also declared that the Prime Minister, who is the minister responsible for town planning, had failed to satisfy and observe the conditions and procedures outlined in Section 4(3) of the Town & Country Planning Act by making a determination on the application without reference to the Town & Country Planning Advisory Committee.
The judge therefore ordered that applications, which are referred to the minister, ought to have been dealt with by that committee in keeping with the provisions of the law.
However, she rejected the applicant’s request for the decision to be quashed, since the minister responsible for town planning was not named in the lawsuit.
The court documents had only listed Cummins as first respondent and the Attorney General as second respondent.
Justice Cornelius also turned down the applicant’s request for the application to be subjected to due process on the same grounds.
The court also did not award any damages because no submissions were made to that effect.
“Taking into account the above orders, the applicant shall have two-thirds of his costs certified fit for one attorney-at-law to be assessed, if not agreed,” Cornelius added.
Attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls, in association with Janice Brown, appeared for the late Leonard St Hill, while Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite, with Caroline Ward-Sargeant, represented the Chief Town Planner and the Attorney-General.
In commenting afterwards, Nicholls praised St Hill for bringing this case to court where the roles of the Chief Town Planner and the Prime Minister have been clearly outlined by a court for the handling of applications for planning permission. He said the ruling meant that neither the Chief Town Planner nor the Prime Minister could act as they pleased when it came to applications for planning permission.