The first draft of the National Physical Development Plan which is to govern the appropriate use of land in Dominica for the next 20 years was presented on April, 26th, to stakeholders and members of the press.
The project, which was conceptualized in 2010 and approved for funding by the Caribbean Development Bank in 2013, comprises two phases.
Phase one was the preparation of the National Land Use Policy which ran from December 2013 and was completed in May 2014. This process involved consultation with Government departments and agencies and a few private sector organizations and individuals.
The policy was approved by cabinet in May 2015 and that cleared the way for the commencement of the National Physical Development Plan which is phase two.
At the consultation, Consultant, Rory Baksh of Dillon Consulting Limited, noted that the consultancy is to allow as much stakeholder feedback as possible.
Baksh commented that the plan helps give guidance when it comes to planning development of these centers and beyond.
“Any subject of any kind related to planning ultimately where something is going to touch the ground, part number five says something about it. Whether it is the forest, the environment, agriculture, housing or industry, or any of those interrelationships within those things you will find that the plan covers in part five all of those subjects in some way, shape or form. Guidance is provided so that when we are doing developmental we are thinking about conservation, the national development physical plan says something about it.
It is very comprehensive in that regard and provides guidance to all different types of Government agencies to private developers be it large or small. Also to the individual citizen looking to building a house all of the things in the National Physical Development Plan apply to any type of situation.”
Another aspect of the policy deals with strengthening the process of planning permission.
“It’s really important to use planning permission as the mechanism to get the plan working and functioning. This is because unless someone is actually seeking planning permission we don’t have an opportunity to use the plan. That is the whole concept in part number six is to say that we have to move Dominica and we have to move the mind set of everyone into the understanding that planning permission needs to be the regular order of business as opposed to developing wherever someone decides they want to build. Everyone involved in development… need to be part of this process to help strengthen planning permission. The more that we get planning permission to be the regular course of business in Dominica the better this plan can achieve what it intends to achieve.” Baksh said.
The consultant concluded by reiterating the importance of these consultations as the policy is one they have deemed ‘By the people, for the people’.
He noted “The last component of the plan is part number seven and this recognizes that key intervals into the future. Dominica needs to pause and say is the plan doing what we hoped it would have done and not just falls on the shoulders of the physical planning division? So every five or ten years we expect physical planning go into pause and say how is this plan working for us? Are we getting the type of development that we want? Are we seeing growth in the way we expect the plan to go? We need to alter or adjust the plans so that we can do better into the future.
Part number seven talks about different multi sector indicators, that would help Physical Planning report back to stake holders and the Government about how well the plan is performing and if the plan needs to be revised or amended in any way. We can be able to demonstrate that the plan that we have prepared is intended to guide Dominica forward for the next 20 years is getting us the results we hope it is intended to do.”