WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15: Moves to streamline the planning process have been welcomed by the Bermuda National Trust.
Last month Minister Marc Bean announced Government proposals that would allow islanders to obtain General Development Orders (GDOs) for a wider range of building projects.
GDOs permit small-scale development without formal submission of a planning application. At present there are seven classes of development permitted by GDOs, which include minor extensions, erecting walls under 4ft and installing satellite dishes.
Jennifer Gray, executive director of the Bermuda National Trust, said: “The Bermuda National Trust is looking forward to reviewing the amendment in more detail.
“As both a property owner and an advocate for Bermuda’s natural and historic environments we welcome any steps that will serve to make the planning process more user-friendly and efficient.
“Allowing for more resources to be freed up for the careful and thorough scrutiny of planning applications that may have detrimental impact to our local environment is a good step.
“However, an all-inclusive planning system is vital to manage our limited resources wisely by setting out what can be built and where within accepted guidelines.
“Such systems provide the public the chance to offer input with regard to important decisions that affect them.
“We expect that these changes will not compromise this.”
Permitted Developments are normally dealt with within six working days by the Planning Department and provide a fast-track arrangement for approving a building permit for small-scale works.
Under the changes, there will be an increase in the permitted site coverage and the permitted total floor area for ‘additions’ in residential and non-residential projects. Homeowners will also be able to build swimming pools by GDOs.
Mr Bean said the changes would create a speedier approval process “for minor non-contentious works”, but also mean that the processing of other development applications could be improved as resources can be redistributed.
Judith Landsberg, president of Greenrock, added: “General Development Orders are used for minor development that is deemed to have automatic planning permission.
“Solar panels under 80ft currently fall under this category.
“If the government is looking at proposals to include something as significant as a swimming pool then we would have welcomed a fresh look at ways to improve energy efficiency or energy generation – for example to approve swimming pools on the condition that they install variable speed pumps, or that they are not heated.
“It would also have been helpful to increase the size of the solar panels with automatic planning permission under this review, as few if any swimming pools are 8x10 ft or smaller and a pool has a much greater visual impact on a property than a solar panel.”