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Illegal building woes

Ryan Gilkes

Illegal building woes

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THE NUMBER OF BARBADIANS building without planning permission from Town and Country Planning remains a source of concern for that department.
Ironically, says Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins, more people from outside the island are making contact with the department to gain information and direction before they build.
He added that, in many instances, small businesses were the ones not following the rules.
“Based on the enforcement notices that we serve in any given year, it continues to be a problem. I would not say that it is a big one;  it is manageable.
“Manageable from that standpoint that we do pick up most of them as our [officers] travel across the island ensuring that development is carried out in an orderly manner,” he said.
Cummins noted that many of the offenders either said they were unaware of the various requirements for permission or that they spoke to a contractor “and he told me I cango ahead and do it”.
Dismissing suggestions that his department was anti-small business, the Chief Town Planner said:“That is the area that we are trying to address by making sure that we disseminate more information to the public.
The idea is not to stop a business. Business is important in that the relationship between business and the community means that there is and will be economic growth and development. 
“But it has to be done in an orderly fashion because you don’t want to go and set up a shop on the edge of the road near to an intersection where, when the truck comes to deliver goods, that truck then has to park on the roadway and impede traffic flow; and in an attempt to get around that truck, [the situation leads] to a collision because[the truck] impeded the sightline.”
Cummins explained that it was for this reason that the department had stepped up its public relations campaign to further ensure that help and guidance were “just a phone call away”.
“We have a website which is widely used more by non-Barbadians, according to the recorded hits. But we are still very much, on a daily basis – through our information desk, through our flyers, and also there is a handbook which we have on sale here – trying to sensitize Bajans about what they need to do when they are building or looking to make additions to properties,” he explained, adding that in the upcoming financial year, the department would host a seminar for small businesses to advise them when they need and do not need planning permission. 
“Regrettably, people do seem not to heed the advice that is available. The unfortunate thing is that, in many instances, a lot of the things that people build without planning permission, had they applied in the first place they would have gotten planning approvals or, in some instances, we would have advised them what they needed to do to get permission,” Cummins said.