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Minister of Local Government and Environment, Dean Peart, has said that the government’s development approval process was more stringent, with renewed emphasis on creating better communities in which residents could feel comfortable, safe and a sense of belonging.
“We are now more strident in the development approvals process to ensure that adequate open or recreational spaces, drainage, sewage, parking, safety and other conditions are met in approving developments,” the Minister said in a speech delivered by Senior Director in the Emergency Management Unit, Philbert Brown, at launch of World Town Planning Day 2006, today (Nov. 8), at the Ministry’s Hagley Park Road offices.
Citing the Inner City Housing Programme as an example, he noted that, “this renewed emphasis on planning better communities will be translated into planning better cities and towns and for economic growth and development”.
He informed that there were various measures being undertaken to identify weaknesses in the development approvals process and “this will improve the institutional and administrative changes that are necessary to speed up the processing of development applications.”
To achieve orderly and sustainable development, Minister Peart said, town planning must involve the efficient use of available land and other resources within a framework of national, regional and urban policies and legislation.
It was within this context, he said, that the government was examining the possibility of creating a single planning and environment legislation to guide development, while at the same time strengthening existing planning and environment legislation.
“Planning for orderly and sustainable development must be translated into creating better communities. Government has been playing its part to ensure that this is achieved,” Mr. Peart stated.
Meanwhile, he informed that the government had embarked on a programme to expedite the process of preparing development plans and orders on a parish priority basis, with the Kingston and St. Andrew Sustainable Development Plan being finalised, while preparation of plans for Portland and Trelawny had commenced with financial assistance from the National Housing Trust (NHT).
A more comprehensive programme for the preparation and updating of other parish plans is being finalised for funding assistance from the NHT, he indicated.
He said the theme for World Town Planning Day, ‘Town and Country Planning – Creating Better Communities’ was very appropriate as Jamaica, like most other developing countries, was experiencing rapid urban growth.
World Town Planning Day is promoted each year to increase awareness of the objectives and progress of urban and regional planning in the world. It also highlights the valuable contributions the planning profession has made to improve the quality of human settlements and sustainable development.
Today’s observation marked the 57th world-wide celebration of World Town Planning day, which is celebrated in more than 30 countries across four continents. The local launch was organised by the Ministry in collaboration with the National Environment and Planning Agency, with the involvement of the Jamaica Institute of Planners, and other key planning bodies and agencies.