The Andrew Holness administration is boasting that some J$1.5 tillion in building approvals have been made since assuming office in 2016, indicative of the business interest being shown in Jamaica.
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie explained that these approvals were made by agencies under his ministry with 37,577 applications received for processing since 2016, remarking “in the scheme of things, Local Government is in the big league. Housing projects cannot happen without Local Government. Commercial activity cannot happen without Local Government. Tourism, our biggest foreign exchange earner, cannot happen without Local Government. There is no development small or large, that is not subject to the development approvals process.”
Minister McKenzie was excited at the fact that the 90-day window for approval is being observed for the most part.
He told Parliament, “the vast majority of approvals are indeed given in that time. In fact, the approval rate has not dipped below 84 per cent in more than 10 years.”
More time to respond to bigger projects
The minister emphasised that structural safety, zonal compliance and environmental integrity are the most prominent issues when applications are considered, advising that, “applications for large and more complex developments, such as apartments and hotels, some of which are over 300 square metres in size, will take longer to assess Madam Speaker, and in some cases have to be sent back for adjustments if they are to be approved.”
Minister MzKenzie acknowledged that Jamaica is squarely within an earthquake zone, observing that its infrastructure has survived these tremors and quakes because of the rigor of the development approvals process. In the meantime, a total of 5,945 applications were received for the 2022 calendar year, reflecting an investment value of J$264.8 billion.
There was a 150 per cent increase in the number of applications received for resort developments with 73 per cent being for larger resorts. There was a five per cent increase in the number of commercial development applications with 49 per cent of these applications being for larger developments.
Additionally, there was a 5.4 per cent increase in the number of large residential development applications submitted. He acknowledged the hard work of the local authorities and the agencies that together, undertake the huge responsibilities critical to assessing development applications in Jamaica.
He reminded Parliament of the three boards established under the Building Act – the Building Practitioners Board, the Building Appeals Tribunal and the Building Advisory Council, which are all operational and available to the public.