Property improvements need OK

Lawmakers have removed what was essentially considered a loophole in Cayman Islands planning law that allowed certain structures to be built on private land without approval of the Central Planning Authority.

According to the Development and Planning Law (2005 Revision), a development permit was not needed for those landowners that wanted to build gates, fences, walls or other means of enclosure on their privately-owned property.

Also, the law did not require permits for home owners that wanted to use their properties for ‘any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling-house.’

Assistant Planning Director Haroon Pandohie said the law has generally been interpreted to require planning permission for those types of improvements on private property, but was recently challenged. He said the challenge made the department realise there was an exception for certain types of development.

Mr. Pandohie said that section of the Development and Planning Law was written when Grand Cayman was much less densely populated than it is today.

‘Swimming pools, fences, sheds…when that (part of the law) got carried forward we didn’t have the level of development we do now,’ he said.

Revisions to the law approved this year have now removed the older sections and make it clear that planning permission is required for those types of improvements to private property.

The Planning Department realises the law is more restrictive in regard to private land use. However, Mr. Pandohie said such restrictions become necessary when space becomes an issue.

For instance, he said someone could decide to build a work shed right in the backyard, right up against a neighbour’s property line.

Fences could also become a development issue, Mr. Pandohie said.

‘We could have a situation where everyone has a six foot cement wall fence in a neighbourhood,’ he said.

He also noted swimming pools must be subject to electrical inspection and water filtration tests for safety reasons.

A copy of the Development and Planning Law (2008 Revision) can be obtained on the Cayman Islands Government website at www.gazettes.gov.ky.

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