Planning approvals up

The Central Planning Authority (CPA) made 66 planning approvals valued at $48.8 million during the month of February, according to released statistics.

The dollar amount of the approvals was more than three times that approved in February 2003 and 2004.

The figures included both administrative approvals and board approvals

More than $22 million of the total figure related to 47 apartment and residential approvals.

‘Houses and apartments are hot right now,’ said Planning Board chairman Altee Thompson, noting that the demand created by Hurricane Ivan is driving that segment of the market.

Another $23.7 million of the total planning approvals fell in the ‘other’ category, which included things like pools, fences, signs, subdivisions, television dishes and seawalls.

When it came to the planning approvals in the ‘other’ category, Mr. Thompson said some done by the Planning Board and some were done administratively at the Planning Department.

For the February approvals, Director of Planning Kenneth Ebanks said the primary items contributing to the ”other’ category were the new high school in Frank Sound, a new church and the temporary trailer homes for people displaced by Hurricane Ivan.

The approving of planning applications administratively has increased since 2003 when the Planning Director’s delegated authority to make such approvals was enhanced, Mr. Ebanks said.

Statistics show that in 2004 nearly half of the total number of planning approvals was made administratively, with a value of $71.4 million.

Planning approvals are required for all new structures, but also any structure that requires rebuilding of external walls or rebuilding from the foundation, Mr. Ebanks said.

Other development requiring Planning approval includes the changing of building materials and additions to existing structures.

Figures released by the Planning Department show planning approvals up in each of the first three quarters last year over 2003, but then 74 per cent down in the final quarter.

The total number still remains down in the first two months this year, but the total value of those approvals through the end of February is considerably higher than the same number in 2003 and 2004.

Planning approvals are normally valid for one year, but the Government recently enacted provisions that allow planning permission to be extended an extra six months – free of charge – after a national disaster like Ivan.