The Physical Planning Unit is responsible for the implementation of the Town and Country Planning Act and its various regulations. The act seeks to ensure orderly and progressive physical development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in two main ways:
- Development control i.e. the granting of planning permission for development
- Development planning ie.the preparation of Land Use Plans.
Effective October, 1st 2011, the Physical Planning Unit began the formed implementation of the National Building Regulations, which are expected to positively affect the construction sector. The built environment will be safer, stronger and more durable, thus it will be able to withstand more natural and man made disasters. Further, it will help to realise significant and socio-economic and legal benefits for all. Therefore for the upcoming year there will be more public awareness campaigns as the new regulations require more inspection on the part of the unit
Copies of the Code and Guidelines can be obtained from the Government Printery while copies of the Home Owners to the Building Regulations can be obtained at the Physical Planning Unit.(Link to Homeowners Guide)
In addition to its regulatory role the Physical Planning Unit is also cognizant of its role in facilitating National development.
The Unit recently assumed responsibility for the development of a National Geographic Information System. This includes the mapping of all spatial data, buildings, roads etc. and other related data (e.g.) census data, in order to better understand their relationship. This information Platform is expected to provide integrated spatial data which would guide policy and decision making with respect to land use and development activities.
The Unit has also embarked on a programme to improve the quality of service provided to the public, with special attention paid to improved access to services and turnaround time. In this regard, it has implemented a decentralization programme by establishing planning desks in the rural communities and the Grenadines as follows:
- Georgetown Desk was established on July 14th 2010 and is opened for business on the second Wednesday of every month.
- The Barrouallie Desk was established on July 21st 2010 and is opened for business on the third Wednesday of every month.iswill be opened for business on the fourth Wednesday of every month.
- The Union Island desk was established on the 1st August 2010 and isopened for business on the first Wednesday of every month.
The desks are located in the Revenue/ Administrative Offices of the District,s with each staffed by a minimum of three persons, including a Planning Technician, a Building Inspector and a Clerk. These officials process applications, inspect sites, scout and provide planning information/advice.
Persons seeking planning services do not have to travel to the capital but can access these services in their communities.
There has been significant improvement in the turnaround time for the processing of planning applications. The World Bank report of 2009 ” Doing Business” ranked St. Vincent and the Grenadines as 1st among countries of the world for processing construction permits. The Unit will continue to strive to further improve the turnaround time and also deliver quality service at all times.