Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will soon be bringing measures to Parliament that could result in non-compliant developers ending up in prison.
Speaking in the House of Assembly today on a resolution to sell a disused public bath on 229.8 square metres of state land at Boscobel in St Peter to a Thelma Agard Bowen, he said he was concerned that too many people in Barbados were turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to instructions from the Town and Country Planning Development Department, to desist from continuing unauthorized developments.
He observed that, because the enforcement notices issued by the department were not working effectively, a bill to amend the Town Planning Act would shortly be tabled in the House, that would put the matter in the hands of a judge.
“People don’t apply to get any permission from the Chief Town Planner; they go and start construction, the department gets to hear about it, goes to the site and says, ‘Look, you don’t have permission to do this, stop it’, and people will hear the Chief Town Planner, but once he turns his back, or once his officers turn their backs, they continue with the unauthorized development,” Stuart pointed out. “And then when a two-storey house is up,” he added, ”bleeding hearts then emerge from somewhere, saying, ‘Yes, we know he broke the law, but you can’t afford to push it down’.”
The Government leader lamented that even when these developers received enforcement notices from Town Planning, they ignored them and continued with the illegal development.
“When that does not happen, you get permission in accordance with a plan you have submitted to construct a building in a particular way. Having got that permission, you then go and construct a building that bears no relationship to the plan for which you got permission, at all. An enforcement notice is served on you, that is ignored, and when the time comes for the building to be demolished, again, bleeding hearts make their presence felt,” asserted the Prime Minister.
He told the House of Assembly he had discussed this matter with the Chief Town Planner, “because I don’t rely on the hearsay in relation to this matter. I go all across the country, once every two months or so, and I see these things for myself.” Stuart said he was now satisfied that the enforcement notice was not nearly as effective as it might be.
“One of the absurdities you have in the law, is that, people now rush to court to get an injunction against the Chief Town Planner, but he can’t get an injunction against anybody to stop them from doing unauthorised development,” he declared.
“So the Town Planning Act,” Stuart disclosed, ”is being amended to give the Town Planning Department the same powers that are vested in individuals, so that you would have to rely on any enforcement notice any more; he can get injunctive relief; and if persons, in spite of having injuctions granted against them, still continue unauthorized construction, they would be in contempt of court, and can become reluctant guests of Her Majesty at Dodds.”
The Prime Minister insisted that this state of affairs cannot continue.
“We have to get some order around here; and I have seen enough of it myself to satisfy myself that this kind of indiscipline has to be brought to an end,” he warned.