Bill empowers planning boards

Proposed legislation would give the Cayman Islands planning boards greater discretion in exercising their powers.

The Development and Planning (Amendment) Bill, 2013, was published in the Gazette 18 January. Among other things, the bill removes a provision in the existing Development and Planning Law, 2011, that enables nearby property owners to thwart certain planning applications in residential areas.

The existing law states that the Central Planning Authority (or on the Sister Islands, the Development Control Board) shall not grant permission for a development that would change the use of primarily residential land unless the development has garnered the written approval of the majority of owners who live or own property within 1,000 feet of the proposed development.

The new bill removes that section of the law, and includes a provision that more generally allows the boards to consider those kinds of applications as long as notice has been properly served in a newspaper.

The bill also repeals a section of the existing law that instructs the boards to consider certain criteria when reviewing applications for major developments, and replaces it with a section that allows the boards to use those criteria if it wishes for any application. To that framework of criteria, the bill also allows the boards to “consider whether the development proposed in the application should instead be carried out at an alternative site”, and to “arrange for the carrying out of research of any kind appearing to it to be relevant to an application”.

The bill enables the boards to seek an injunction when they consider it “necessary or expedient for any actual or apprehended breach of planning control to be restrained”.

The bill also grants “all the powers, privileges and immunities of a constable” to people authorised in writing by the boards to enter land for the boards’ purposes.

The bill creates the position of deputy chairman for the planning authority and for the Sister Islands board. It also increases the number of people on the Development Plan Tribunal from two to three.

The bill also increases the maximum allowable height of a fence or wall that is exempt from the planning permission requirement, from 3-and-a-half feet, to 4 feet.