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Town and Country Planning

The Town and County Planning Division falls under the purview of the Ministry of Town Planning and Development. The division itself and its functions are set out in the Town and Country Planning Act.

TYPES OF PLANNING PERMISSION

Persons who are about to engage in the development of their land/premises need to seek planning permission first.

Development of land includes:

(a) The carrying out of new construction for any purpose;

(b) The addition or renovation of existing buildings;

(c) Mining or other operations in, on or under any land;

(d) the making of a material change in the use of any building or other land;

(e) the sub-division of any land;

(f) cutting, clearing, grading or filling of land;

(g) construction of roads, drains, changing the use of a building or land; and

(h) display of advertisements.

There are two types of planning permission which may be sought. They are:

(1) An outline planning permission and (2) Full planning permission.

The outline planning permission is required for (1) building operations and (2) sub-division of land. But this form or approval does not give applicants the right to start development.

One may only begin construction/ works after an application for full planning permission is submitted to and approved by the minister. This form of permission is required for:

(i) Building operations;

(ii) Sub-division of land;

(iii) Change of use of a building or land; and

(iv) Retention of an existing building and/or use.

DELEGATED POWERS BY THE MINSTER

The minister has the power to give his powers to local authorities. It is the delegated local authorities that grant permission to applicants. If permission is refused by the local authority, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision to the minister.

The applicant has 28 days to serve notice of his intention to appeal to the minister. The minister’s decision is final.

DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT PERMISSION

Where it appears to the minister that any development of land has been carried out without the grant of permission, the minister may, within 4 years, serve on the owner or occupier of the land an enforcement notice stating the nature of his objection.

On receipt of service of this notice, the occupier or owner of the land has 28 days to appeal to the court against the enforcement notice. Failure to appeal within 28 days would mean that they have 28 more days to comply with the notice of the enforcement.

Where someone appeals the enforcement notice, the time period stops running until the court determines the appeal. However, if there is no appeal where the applicant does not comply with the enforcement notice, ie removes the structure that is the subject of the notice, then the applicant has committed a criminal offence.

The offence is known as the failure to comply with an enforcement notice and is punishable by a criminal court of law. This type of offence is prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, in conjunction with Town and Country Planning.

According to the legislation, the penalty for a non-compliance with an enforcement notice is a fine of $1,500 or, in the case of a continuing offence, a further fine of $300 for every day after the first day of the offence beginning. — Timothy Affonso

This article sets out general guidelines. All legal rules have exceptions and variations. How the law applies to you depends on the facts of your case.

This column is an initiative of the Trinidad Guardian and the Law Association, with assistance from students of the Hugh Wooding Law School.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Nicholas Attai