Town planning ruling could do more harm than good
The local town planning society is concerned about a recent court ruling by High Court Justice Jacqueline Cornelius, saying it did not take into consideration the way the public sector works, and also gave a questionable interpretation of the role of the Planning Advisory Commitee.
Last November, in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Six Men’s Plantation in St Peter back in 2008 by late Chief Town Planner Leonard St Hill, Cornelius ruled that it was not for the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins to decide who actually receives planning permission.
In fact, the court made it clear that decisions on the processing of all major beachfront and agricultural land applications were to be made by the Prime Minister, who is the minister responsible for town planning, with reference to the Town & Country Planning Advisory Committee, in keeping with the conditions and procedures outlined in Section 4(3) of the Town & Country Planning Act.
However, the Barbados Town Planning Society (BTPS) is concerned that the Prime Minister is not equipped to make such decisions.
‘He [the Prime Minister] does not, to our knowledge, employ qualified town planners. [Therefore] these applications,” BTPS Secretary Kim Penfold said, while expressing concern that such applications were currently not
being dealt with and that a solution needs to be found quickly before the system grinds to a halt.
Penfold said local town planners were also concerned that the ruling would further delay planning approvals, with at least ten such applications already said to be sitting on the Prime Minister desk.
“In some ways, the judgment tries to be helpful – saying decisions need to be made more quickly and calling for greater transparency.. . . which the Barbados Town Planning Society has been calling for for years. The net effect, however, is to cause more delays on important beachfront and other major developments.
“We would like to know that the Government is appealing the decision, because at the moment, it is leaving the whole system in a state of chaos,” he added.
Asked if his organization would appeal the ruling, he told Barbados TODAY they simply did not have the financial wherewithal to do so. However, they were hoping that Government would do so, even though they welcomed the judge’s attempt to bring greater transparency to the planning procedures and the application of the rules of natural justice under the Town and Country Planning Act.