The Town & Country Development Planning Department is not simply to be a regulatory body, but should also act as a facilitator.
And according to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the Planning and Development Bill 2019 will put the department in a position to do just that.
“What this Bill does is for the first time it introduces into our laws a government that recognizes the role of town planning is not simply to be regulatory, but to be also a facilitator of economic development and economic growth,” Mottley said.
In referencing the Bill, she said it would transform the way business was done in Barbados.
She revealed that because of outdated legislation, there were over 110 applications related to beachfront and agricultural subdivision planning awaiting approval, with some dating back to when the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was last in Government.
“ . . . This will hopefully change the way in which planning and development in Barbados is done as we go forward, but more so than that, be one of the critical platforms for the unlocking of economic growth in this country,” she said.
Mottley said one of the most impressive features of the Bill was its ability to allow the Town Planning Department to operate in a more transparent manner.
“One of the key things that impress me about this Bill relates to the fundamental shift in how government functions, by introducing the concept of provisional refusal, such that if you apply to the department and the department is minded to refuse your application, we are saying in this legislation that they can’t only tell you “no”, but they must also move to tell you what will trigger “yes” in your application,” the Prime Minister noted.
Mottley also revealed that changes were coming to the department including the introduction of a statutory board. She said the 12-member board would deal with complex applications only.
“The powers to be exercised by a planning and development board, particularly with respect to complex applications, because we do not expect that every application that comes into Town Planning must go to this board.
“Simple applications such as dwelling houses will continue to go to the chief town planner for determination, but more complex applications will go to the board for greater transparency” Mottley said.
The Prime Minister said the chief town planner by law would sit on the board as executive secretary, along with four ex officio members from other Government departments and seven other members who came from different parts of several professions. One of the members must be recommended by the Barbados National Trust, two would be chosen after consultation with the professional bodies that govern the area, while the other four members had to be drawn from non-governmental institutions with
knowledge and experience in land development.
They would be selected by the minister and a person could serve for up to three years at one time and the board would be required to meet at least once monthly.
However, she said the minister would retain the right to give directions requiring that certain classes of applications be directed to the minister for determination.