Development Stakeholders to Discuss Measures to Curb Approvals Breaches

Photo: Donald Delahaye Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill (centre), chairs a recent meeting with heads of departments and agencies for which he has portfolio responsibility, at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices.

Story Highlights

  • The Minister made the disclosure to JIS News, after being briefed of this development recently by representatives of the Real Estate Board, for which he has portfolio responsibility.
  • Consequent on this, he advised that, he will shortly meet with Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott; Kingston’s Mayor, Senator Councillor Dr. Angela Brown Burke;
  • Ms. Watson says Minister Pickersgill’s decision to intervene and convene the meeting is “very proactive”, given the nature of the matter.

Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, is to meet with key stakeholders to discuss measures to curb the reported by-passing of the approvals process for revised building plans by some developers, particularly for apartment complexes.

The Minister made the disclosure to JIS News, after being briefed of this development recently by representatives of the Real Estate Board, for which he has portfolio responsibility.

“It has come to my attention that developers are constructing more units in development schemes, in excess of the number of units approved by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Parish Councils, and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC),” he told JIS News.

This practice, he declared, will “severely challenge” the schemes’ infrastructure, and ultimately affect purchasers of the units. Consequent on this, he advised that, he will shortly meet with Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott; Kingston’s Mayor, Senator Councillor Dr. Angela Brown Burke; and Rent Board Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Watson, among other stakeholders, for discussions on how the issue will be addressed.

Ms. Watson explained that developers breaching the approval process do not consult with nor seek guidance from NEPA, the island’s chief planning authority, of local planning authorities, on the potential challenges to their developments if details of reconfigured building plans are not thoroughly perused, discussed, vetted, and approved, before proceeding to construction.

This, she pointed out, becomes problematic for both the Board and Commission of Strata Corporations. “If the development scheme is registered for a set number and the developer builds in excess of the original approval, we do not know (how best) to protect the (interests of the) additional purchasers in the scheme,” Ms. Watson said.

She added that it then poses a serious challenge and subsequently “becomes a problem” for the Commission to solve, as regards issues relating to parking, additional costs for removing sewage, and water problems.

“These things come back to the Commission of Strata Corporations to be resolved in dispute resolution.  Of course, it creates serious contention for new purchasers and existing home owners,” she told JIS News.

Ms. Watson says Minister Pickersgill’s decision to intervene and convene the meeting is “very proactive”, given the nature of the matter. “The hope is that the other people around the table will understand the gravity of the problems being created, (so as) to understand that there are…issues other than providing (an abundance of) housing (solutions),” she said.

JIS Social