Have Your Say
JM | Jan 25, 2022

Concerned citizens associations and individuals | Order, transparency, and accountability needed for urban development in Jamaica

/ Our Today

administrator

Almost three dozen citizens associations and individuals have come together to take the Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) for failing to ensure that there is a transparent process for granting permits for high density housing developments, and adherence to the relevant laws and the 2017 Provisional Development Order (PDO).

The following is what they had to say:

We, the several citizens associations and individuals signed below, join in calling to account the Kingston & St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) for their failure to ensure a transparent process for granting permits for high density housing developments, and adherence to the relevant Laws and the 2017 Provisional Development Order (PDO).

As concerned, affected associations and individuals, we have made numerous submissions to NEPA and KSAMC. There has been only very rare acknowledgement and response and, until recently, very little action on these matters, which include:

·     lack of requisite notifications to communities, lack of public postings of prospective developments, and of community inclusion

·    breach of approval conditions &/or relevant Development Order or Town Country Planning Act.

We note that NEPA convened a Committee in 2019 to make recommendations on building height and density in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). The recommendations of the Committee, which comprised five architects and six planners, have seemingly also been ignored. The recommendations included restricting high rises to highly commercialized areas and on major transportation routes. The Committee also recommended that:

 “A comprehensive Master Plan prepared for proposed new high density zones must be undertaken prior to rezoning”, 

and  “There is an urgent need to construct more affordable dwelling units which can be built at higher densities and lower heights (3 & 4 stories)…“

and that existing low density communities be “aggressively protected from further intrusion of higher density developments.” 

Against the background of inadequate planning and enforcement we welcome recent pronouncements by the Courts on the failings of NEPA and KSAMC to properly discharge their functions and responsibilities, and the Court rulings against lawless developers. We welcome the recent rulings in favour of citizens of communities whose enjoyment of their property and community has been upended. 

We take note that the KSAMC, in responding to the rulings and increasing public demand, has publicly acknowledged the deficiencies. We note its very recent application for injunction against a developer and its pronouncements on the need for regular inspection of building sites and reports from their inspectors, among other things. These are the most basic standards that the Municipal Council should long have been adhering to. We also note the Kingston Mayor’s call for an audit, and the Resolution by Minority members of the Council calling for greater transparency in the Building Committee and in the permitting process.

We expect an early Government response to these actions, and add our voices in calling for:

·   An immediate moratorium on further approval of high rise, high density developments of over 3 storeys in height, and 75 habitable rooms per hectare (or over30 habitable rooms per acre) in established, low density neighbourhoods;

·  A comprehensive audit and overhaul of the approval process

·  NEPA, NRCA and KSAMC must make available for easy online access by citizens, up-to-date records of all building applications, including outline planning permission, permit numbers of pending developments, results of applications (approved, denied or modified), stop orders, inspection reports etc.

·  The Government’s acceptance and implementation of the 2019 NEPA Committee’s recommendations on heights and densities in the KSAMA.

·  A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee to review the 2017 Provisional Development Order for the KMA, introduction of a Development Order Bill open to submissions from the public, and passage of the Bill into Law. 

We welcome the acceptance by the Parliamentary Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee of a November 2021 citizens’ request to present our concerns and further recommendations, and await word on when the Committee will accommodate our request. (END)

January 24, 2022

Signed:

·  Charlemont Drive Neighbourhood Watch and Citizen’s Association

·  Cunningham/Herb McKenley/Latham Ave Neighbourhood Association

·  Devon Square Citizens Association

·  Eastwood Park Gardens Citizens Association

·  Golden Triangle Neighbourhood Association

·  Hope Pastures Citizen Association

·  Pleasant Valley Citizens Association, Red Hills

·  Salisbury and Environs Group

·  South Liguanea Citizen Association

·  Jamaica Environment Trust

Concerned Individuals

·  Kent P. Gammon, Attorney-at-Law, Paddington Terrace, Kingston 6,

·  Carol Narcisse, Civil Society advocate, resident, Red Hills Community ·      Honor Ford-Smith, Ph.D, Hope Road, Kingston 6, Associate Professor, Fac. of Environmental & Urban Change & Associate Director, Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean, York University 

·  Peta Ann Baker, Ph.D., Social Development Specialist, Exec. Member of Strata Corp.

·  Fae A. Ellington, CD, Barbican, Kingston 6, Member of the Access to Information Tribunal and Chairman, National Integrity Action

·  Esther Figueroa, Gordon Town, St. Andrew

·  Carla Gullotta, ‘Stand Up for Jamaica’

·  Diana McCaulay, environmental activist

·  Professor Carolyn Cooper, Beverly Hills, Kingston 6.

·  Veronica Salter, Ph.D., Marley Close, Kingston 6

·  Jennifer Jones, Mona, Kingston 6

·  Bhavna Patel, Dewsbury Avenue, Kingston 6. 

·  Joan Grant Cummings, Cherry Gardens Citizens Association

·  Carol Narcisse, Civil Society Advocate, Red Hills, Kingston 19

·  Samere Tansley, Artist, Stony Hill, Kingston 9

·  Jeanette Campbell, Colliston Rd, Kingston 10

·  Anna Perkins, Ph.D., Public Theologian

·  Carol Lawes, Paddington Terrace, Kingston 6

·  Rachel Goffe, Ph.D., Assist. Professor, Dept. of Human Geography, University of Toronto Scarborough

·  Elaine Wint, Corporate Facilitator, Trafalgar Park, New Kingston

·  Marjan de Bruin, Ph.D, Stony Hill, Kingston 9

·  Joan King, Old Harbour

·  Dorothy Whyte, Dillsbury Ave, Kingston 6

·  Lisa Gordon, Maryland District, St. Andrew

·  Karen Thwaites, Durham Avenue Kgn 6

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