Scheme to speed up planning applications

  • Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affair, provides an update on planning applications (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Process times for some planning applications will be “greatly reduced” thanks to a new scheme, the home affairs minister pledged today.

Walter Roban said that the change allowed the Development Applications Board to delegate the power to grant or refuse applications to the director of the Department of Planning.

Mr Roban said that the director would be able to greenlight applications that were “straightforward and compliant with the current development plans for the island”.

He added: “It is anticipated that this change, known as the Scheme of Delegation, will greatly reduce the times by allowing the internal approvals for those full compliant applications and those only requiring minimal discretion.

“The goal is to streamline the processes so that these applications no longer have to go through the Board and be delayed.”

Mr Roban said that the Board currently meets biweekly.

But he stressed that certain applications would still be dealt with by the Board.

Mr Roban said these applications included those with registered objections, with an environmental-impact statement, and applications which are, in the opinion of the director, of “national interest”.

He added that the director would also have the power to refer any application they deem fit to the Board.

Mr Roban said: “Likewise, the Board may decide that certain applications may be better determined by the director.”

He said that the change was in line with a pledge made to MPs in the House of Assembly last May to streamline the planning process.

Victoria Pereira, the director of the planning department, said that applications that could be fast-tracked included minor home additions, and new house developments that are “completely compliant”.

She added that the new scheme did not affect the advertisement component of applications which allowed for objections.

Mr Roban also provided an update on the status of the Draft Bermuda Plan 2018.

He said: “Since the beginning of 2018, the Draft Bermuda Plan has been in operation, and the new development plan for the island, with the exception of the City of Hamilton.”

Mr Roban said that the plan was now in the “final stages” to be completed.

He added that feedback received during public consultation that had not been resolved would be refered to the Bermuda Plan 2018 Tribunal which would begin its work “shortly”.

John Payne will serve as chairman of the tribunal. Other members include Carlos Amaral and Jennifer Haworth.

Mr Roban said alternate members Jonathan Starling, Quinell Francis and Vanessa Turner would “fill in as needed”.

He added: “The tribunal is an independent and unbiased group whose role is to hear all arguments and make a recommendation to the minister as to how they should proceed, once they have made their final decision.

“Following the final decision by the minister on all objections, the Plan will proceed to the House of Assembly for approval.”

Mr Roban said that the tribunal was expected to finish its work this summer.