Patricia Green | What does KSA confirmed development order entail?
“... A city should not merely draw men together in many varied activities, but should permit each person to find, near at hand, moments of seclusion and peace ... .” writes Lewis Mumford in The Culture of Cities. Seclusion and peace should become pivotal in any urban development order. In this regard, residents in the Kington and St Andrew Area (KSA) listened keenly on March 16 to the Budget speech by Prime Minister Holness.
“... Madam Speaker, I am pleased to update this Honourable House on the following achievements: we have confirmed the Kingston and St Andrew and Pedro Cays Development Order ... .” the PM announced. Finally, the 2017 Provisional Development Order (PDO) has transitioned into confirmed status.
This announcement of the Confirmed Development Order (CDO) has solicited many questions. How quickly will persons see the draft confirmation document? When will the steps outlined in the Town and Country Panning Act (TCPA) 1958 Section 7(2) be implemented? Was the confirmation published in the gazette? What is the confirmation notification? Was the confirmation executed with or without modifications to the 2017-PDO?
The TCPA requires consultations with ‘interested persons’ if there had been any modifications to the 2017-PDO. Section 6(1) reads “... every interested person may object to any provisional development order ... for any reason impractical or unnecessary or that it is against the interests of the economic welfare of the locality ...”. Section 6(3)(b) defines ‘inter ested person’ as “... in whom is vested any freehold estate in any land within the locality ...”, meaning you own property. It also includes any person in land-lease arrangements not less than three years. Hence, the assumption is that the CDO is based on the unmodified 2017-PDO. Would this increase development in the KSA?
Interested persons as residential neighbourhood groups have coalesced into Citizens Right to the City, the Community Advocacy Group,’ and the Advocates Network. Section 6(2) provides for ‘interested persons’ to “... give notice in writing to the Authority within fourteen days ...”. A Gleaner letter to the editor of December 7, 2022, ‘Consider the rights of the citizens, Mr. PM,’ calls “... for no confirmation, without consultation on the impact and lessons of the 2017 Provisional Development Order...”.
Close examination of TCPA Section 9(c) reads, “... if any development during the interval referred to above is found not to be in conformity with the confirmed development order, that order shall prevail in respect of such development ...”. What does this mean? Would this suggest that if a developer is currently undertaking a development during this interval after the March 16 confirmation announcement and that the development is not in conformance with the CDO but with that of the 2017-PDO, then the CDO shall prevail? Who will clarify these issues?
My November 22, 2022, Gleaner article ‘Social inclusion critical to sustainable development‘ shared the PM suggesting that the 2017-PDO had some grey and ambiguous areas needing finalisation concerning lot sizes. He also suggested the need for greater density and height, with the hope of bringing increased applications for development. Who is able to clarify what appears to be some further grey areas pertaining to the confirmation notice?
Clarification 1 – “Eastwood Park Gardens” Local Planning Area (LPA) is zoned primarily residential. Is it that the CDO has now changed the Eastwood Park Gardens neighbourhood from residential into commercial/ industrial/manufacturing to prevail in respect of such types of development currently erected in this area?
Clarification 2 – “Papine University District” LPA multifamily developments are stated to be on lot sizes over quarter-acre, with most areas earmarked for 30-habitable rooms per acre and maximum 2-storey height. Headline of Gleaner December 9, 2022, reads, ‘Explosion of building projects in the city? Live with it, says NEPA.’ This article states, “... along Charlemont Drive alone, there were at least eight approvals for construction to take place that have either commenced or are about to commence ...”. Will these prospective developments require review and/or resubmission under the new CDO?
Clarification 3 – “Barbican” LPA and “Manor Park” LPA stipulate multifamily developments on lots over half-acre. Where the density is allowed for 50 habitable rooms per acre, there should be a maximum four-storey height. Yet there are developments in contravention of the 2017-PDO that have repeatedly appeared in media reports and/or court judicial rulings, for example Birdsucker Avenue, Evans Avenue, and Roseberry Drive. Will the CDO now regularise these developments?
Clarification 4 – Upper Waterloo Road, Kingston 10, currently appears outside of any of the Local Planning Areas, and, seemingly, without any development guidelines. Will the CDO increase developments along this road?
“... Madam Speaker ... ” said the PM, “... not all developers, contractors, and investors present major challenges. Some endeavour to comply with the environmental safeguards, the planning laws, the Building Act and Building Code ...”. The prime minister continued, “... Others pay little regard to them [the laws]. They negatively impact spaces, for example, destroying trees and foliage, damaging verges and roads, and leaving behind concrete spill hazards ...”. The PM announced the government’s intention ‘... to impose impact fees, to mitigate against damage of improper and unprofessional development ...”. The National Works Agency and the municipal authorities, where appropriate, will execute a programme of “... compensatory measures to return the areas into the liveable spaces ...”.
Citizens affected by development lawlessness are rejoicing over this proposed impact fee, saying that the authorities have heard their cries about what is happening in their neighbourhoods. However, this, too, has posed further questions. Will the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) be given additional staff to manage and monitor this new portfolio of ‘impact fees’? The KSAMC seems to be unable to enforce ‘Stop Orders’ adequately across a number of neighbourhoods, thereby enabling several developments to proceed to completion and apparently to occupation. Would the Government be willing to consider an audit of development stop orders, including whether this stop order fee of J$5 million is being collected as stipulated in the 2018 Building Act? Would the Government now consider merging both the ‘stop order’ fee and this new ‘Impact fee’ collection process?
As mentioned in my February 26 Gleaner article, ‘Lessons for Jamaica from Turkey and Syria earthquakes,’ prior to a 2018 presidential and parliamentary election, the government of Turkey granted amnesty for certain building and development violations. By 2019, a massive earthquake resulted in the sad loss of thousands of lives after buildings collapsed. The recent earthquakes of February 6 in Turkey resulted in numerous additional buildings collapsing, with a death toll exceeding 50,000. Turkish mayors, real estate developers, and building contractors were arrested in the aftermath. We hope that the KSA ‘Confirmed Development Order’ will avert any paralleling with what happened in Turkey.
Patricia Green is an architect, historic preservationist, independent scholar and regenerator. Send feedback to email@example.com