By P.T. Lawrence
The main Authority for Planning in any country rests in statutory laws that have been enacted in their sovereign Parliaments. Now a days, there are slight variations or twists to the concept of planning laws and these have been orchestrated by the developed nations of the world. They believed that there are different levels of civilisations that are based on their achieved levels of development, and as a consequence, countries are divided into several categories namely: (a) the developed, (b) the developing, (c) the undeveloped, (d) the First World, (e) no mention of the Second World) and (f) the Third World.
Most of the countries of the world have formal sovereign parliaments in which bills are debated and if the bills received safe passages through parliament then they become enforceable laws of the respective countries. This process operates successfully in European, some Asian, and North and South American countries.In some countries (eg.Nevis) they do not have the full authority to enact planning laws and therefore the semblance of planning laws that exist have been imposed upon them.
Because of the various categories of countries, one therefore expects a very wide variation in planning laws which range from “the formal to the informal”. In some cases in the South Pacific the laws are unwritten and are enforced by custom. Following the introduction of the one-sided term “Globalisation” which has built into its concepts ‘the movement of industrial, commercial, and leisure activities’, one tends to find that the planning laws in some of these developing, undeveloped or third world countries are totally inadequate to cope with the demands that are created by the concept of Globalisation.
Nevis cannot adequately cope with the problems and these include: public access to beaches, the threatened loss of rights of way that have been granted by prescription,and the loss of rich agricultural and potential recreational lands.
Having said all this, one can see that there is a precariously urgent need for an all embracing planning law initially to protect the rights of the Nevisian population and more specifically the need for planning permission.
It is a good idea to have a brief look at some of the planning laws in some countries; there are so many that I will quote extracts from the 1971 Planning Act in England. Section 23(1) of the act provides that subjects to the provisions of that section, “planning permission “is required for the carrying out of any development of land”.It therefore follows that planning permission may be granted following the determination of an express application for permission made to the local planning authority for the area in which the land is situated.
We are not in England; we are in Nevis and the local planning authority is the Nevis Planning Authority, Main Street, Charlestown. So as far as we are concerned, any individual, groups of individuals, company or conglomerates who want to embark upon any form of development, must, (if we have that provision in our laws) apply to the local planning authority for permission to proceed with their development.
It is important to note that the key words that are used in S23 (1) of the above 1971 Act are “development of land). Development can mean anything and a host of other things but to make the act applicable S22 (1) defines its meaning. Development is central to the power of local authority— the planning authority in Nevis. In its definition, the act states that development is ‘the carrying out of building, engineering, mining, or other operations in, on, over or under or under land ‘ or the making of any material change in the use of any building or other land. It is clear that the act has specifically dealt with two forms of development: i.e operations and material change in the use of land or building. This is a very extensive provision and for the act to be implemented successfully, governments must ensure that the planners received systematic and professional training that such a demanding position calls for.
Some key terms to look for are:building operations, buildings, demolition, engineering operations, mining operations, and other operations. If any operations fall into these categories, then a determination from the planning officer is required. Today, a lot of individuals and developers do things on their lands which they honestly believe are quite legitimate but, on the contrary are unlawful. In such cases such actions attract the attention of the planning officers.
S22(1) is an all embracing section which catches any conceivable misdeeds by a developer. If the Nevis Planning Laws contain any such provisions then the operations that were carried out by Villa Paradiseo in Paradise Estate, and by Four Seasons on Jessups beach are to all intents and purposes ‘developments’. These operations should attract applications for determination by the Nevis Planning Authority whose roles must be autonomous and clearly defined by an Act Of Parliament.
We now have a series of partial guidelines to look at to determine whether or not any form of development requires planning permission or not. This is a yard stick that can be used to make the determination ourselves and by jove we should.
Any function of government calls for a rigid system of administration and planning is no exception. In a subsequent article I will try to enlighten our readers on the topic of “the Central Control and administration of Planning.