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Planning Division to review land use policy

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Policies determining where people can build and the types structures will have to be re-examined in the wake of the recent flooding in Central, South and East Trinidad over the last few days, acting Director of the Town and Country Planning Division Clyde Watche said yesterday.

Speaking at a Planning Ministry press conference, Watche said despite the fact that there was a national spatial development policy, some citizens ignored this and continued construction that did not meet the agency’s standards. He said building practices have changed in areas prone to flooding, adding that homes are now built off the ground and were better able to withstand floods.

Asked whether too many people were simply breaking the law and building without regard for their environment and issues such as drainage, Watche said the agency received many applications for approval which must also be filtered by agencies such the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

Assistant Director Kerry Pariag, who also spoke, said the division was engaged in ongoing data collection to implement new policies as some were outdated. However, he said following the severity of the flooding there may be a new high water mark adding that the agency would have to map this and be guided accordingly regarding the granting of approvals and for what type of development.

Pariag also said incoming data could mean a return to zoning policies and possible retraction of some land use policies regarding permission for residential building.

“We may have to limit, bar, restrict or outright prohibit urban development in certain spaces,” he said.

Pariag said while the agency has regulations in place to control development, particularly on hillsides to curb the denudation of vegetation that contributes heavily to flooding, the legal process was time consuming.

Urging for the need for the relevant Government agencies to work in tandem, Pariag said new legislation to assist more sensible development was partially proclaimed through the Planning and Facilitation Development Act.


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