The Town and Country Development Planning Department is to be renamed the Planning and Development Department and the Chief Town Planner’s post is to be abolished, among a number of major changes to the Government’s town planning agency, Minister of Economic Affairs Marsha Caddle has disclosed.
The Chief Town Planner is to be replaced by the Director of the Planning and Development department, she said, adding that changes are coming to the operations and speed of which things are done by the department.
As the Minister piloted the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill in the House of Assembly, the St Michael South Central MP said the changes were aimed at making the department more efficient. A major change is having the same application number throughout the entire process.
She said: “Applicants felt that they wanted an approval before going to the detailed design drawings. We agreed we would do it in two phases.
“We go quickly through the planning and approval and use the same application number and attach that to the stage of the building permit when the drawings are required. You keep the same application number throughout the process.”
Caddle said the changes were important steps that had to be taken at this time.
She said: “We believe that these are important steps we have to take. These steps require some other changes. We need to change the title of the head of the Planning and Development department from Chief Town Planner to Director.
The establishment of the one-stop system will require the current amendments that we are now debating. It will also require that we repeal and replace Health Services Implications 1969. It requires the revision and adoption of the Barbados Building Code and further capacity building in the Planning and Development Department which is underway.”
“We will also increase of the timeframe of the delivery of decision by the Appeal Panel from 14 to 28 days. We did have some discussions and it was suggested that more time is required to adequately consider appeals.”
There will be a different system in place for bigger projects with more “complex” designs, the Minister disclosed.
Caddle said: “For more complex applications these will be appraised against the Building Code by independent external professionals. That’s important. The idea of a Building Code is something that has been discussed over and over for many years. A Building Code for Barbados has to be reviewed, agreed and out fully into force. This amendment allows us to do that.
“The drawings will be registered with the department when approve and we will have independent professionals inspect the works at different stages and report to the department. The department will issue the final occupancy certificate and registers will be kept by the department.
“These same external professionals will be required to have professional indemnity insurance in order to be registered under their relevant professional acts.”
As it relates to the independent professionals they will be subject to disciplinary action if the need arises, she said.
“The legislation that governs them has to be robust and that they are highly motivated to do their way in a responsible way. We also have penalties for professional misconduct among the professions that we are asking to be involved in the building control process,” Minister Caddle said.
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