Planning necessary for growth

Long-term quality of life concerns must be considered when planners make decisions about future development in the Cayman Islands.

Kenneth Ebanks and Haroon Pandohie

Kenneth Ebanks and Haroon Pandohie. Photo: Basia Pioro

That was the underlying message of this year’s World Town Planning day theme of ‘Planning Healthy Communities.’

Paying a visit to the Planning Department to mark the occasion, Leader of Government Business and Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts described how planning, as a professional discipline, maps how a community will look, grow, and define itself-its characteristics, attributes, and identity.

‘As our islands continue to change and grow, this department plays an important role in ensuring that new developments are designed and built in harmony with the existing surroundings,’ he said.

‘Every day planners must carefully balance the needs and desires of residents against the challenges presented by growth and change.’

Planning Director Kenneth Ebanks was grateful for the opportunity to raise the profile of planning on Grand Cayman in order to emphasise its benefits for the community and encourage cooperation between the Planning Department and the general public.

‘This is the first time Cayman is celebrating this special day and we hope that it will become an annual event,’ he said.

‘Now that we’ve settled into our new home and our department is getting the attention it needs to expand our staff and services, we will be better equipped to spread the word that the work we do is benefiting the people of Cayman over the long term.’

Mr, Ebanks said that already, new management procedures in place that will streamline the whole planning process to make it as user-friendly as possible, and planning laws and regulations are being amended to make them more up to date.

At times planners have a thankless and difficult task because they’re perceived as naysayers on building projects.

But it’s a planner’s job to look at the big picture and envision what the future can and should look like, thus leading them to understand what the effects of certain seemingly small decisions by individuals will have on future quality of life for the whole community.

By providing recommendations on where a new home is located, for example, planners avoid complicating construction of a road that is foreseen to be needed in the future.

By agreeing to a planner’s recommendation to incorporate a sidewalk into a new design, a builder will be benefiting pedestrian safety at a fraction of what it will cost to build the same sidewalk sometime in the future.

It’s a message Assistant Director Haroon Pandohie wants to get across.

‘We’re hoping that we will be able to encourage people take a step back and see that what we might be asking them to do or plan for is not only gong to make a positive difference now, but will have lasting effects on the quality of life in the Cayman Islands five, 10 and even 100 years down the line.’

World Town Planning Day is celebrated annually by 30 countries on four continents on November 8th as a way to promote public and professional awareness of the planning discipline.

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