Beckles: Building practises being monitored to ease flooding

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Planning and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles. –

Planning and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles said the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) has taken and continues to take several measures to monitor and regulate building practises so as to alleviate riverine flooding.

She was responding to a question from Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram in the House of Representatives on Friday which asked what measures had been taken to monitor and regulate building practices, especially those close to major watercourses, in light of the severe flooding and complaints of unregulated and irregular building practises being a major contributor to riverine flooding.

Beckles said the TCP is constantly reviewing and updating land use policies, site development standards and spatial planning guidelines (SPGs). She said once these were approved, they are published on the website of the TCPD and are made available to members of the public.

“They provide guidance to applicants and prospective developers, who are then able to propose development that are approvable, undertaken responsibly and sustainably, and consistent with land use planning policy and relevant site development standards. The guidelines also designate and protect areas which are unsuitable for development and susceptible to natural disasters such as flooding.”

She said specific guidelines were being prepared related to development in flood-prone areas and on hillsides, and the provision of advice regarding adaptation and mitigation measures related to the impacts of climate change.

“To this end the TCPD has been incorporating requirements outlined in the TT Bureau of Standards guide to the design and construction of small buildings.”

Disaster volunteers Rupa Amrit, Edwin Chin Hing and Sadia Ali-Sampath, observe as water from the Caroni River, filters freely into a pond at Bamboo # 2 on Monday because of a faulty flood flap. File photo/Angelo Marcelle

She said when development is proposed near to major watercourses, the advice of the Drainage Division of the Works and Transport Ministry is sought to determine appropriate building line setbacks distance from the respective rivers, and measures for minimising or preventing flooding.

“In addition, the TCPD collaborates with other relevant agencies and organisations in the development approval process. These include the MOWT Drainage Division, the EMA, IMA, WASA, ODPM, and The UWI.

“The online development application process known as DevelopTT was introduced, inter alia, to provide a secure and transparent mechanism whereby all agencies involved in the construction permitting process, can communicate and co-ordinate activities as it would relate to any individual application for planning permission.”

Beckles said applications approved by the TCPD are forwarded to the relevant municipal corporations for processing. She said these developments cannot be implemented without the prior approval of the respective regional corporation. She said applications of proposed developments which were refused planning permission by the TCPD are also forwarded to the relevant corporation.

She said if development occurs without the benefit of planning approvals or in contradiction to a planning approval, the minister is empowered to undertake enforcement action to control the development of land and has been doing so through the issuance of enforcement notices.

“The issuance of these enforcement notices, premised on relevant research, site visits, and parameters based on the Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 35:01, is an ongoing, daily operation. All matters for which enforcement notices are issued, and for which there have been non-compliance to the steps required to be taken as outlined in the notice, are dealt with at the respective magistrates court within the area which the subject site is located.”