FRIDAY, JUNE 29: Homeowners will be able to build larger extensions as well as swimming pools without making formal planning applications under proposals outlined by Government yesterday.
Minister Marc Bean announced ‘streamlining’ changes that will 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.
‘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.
Mr Bean also outlined plans to extend the current powers of the Development Applications Board by granting the Director of Planning authority to determine straightforward planning applications.
He added: “The proposed amendment would relate to relatively small-scale projects, such as those that require a full planning application but are fully compliant with all the policies and requirements of the Bermuda Plan 2008 and do not require the exercise of discretion for the relaxation of any prescribed standards.
“In addition, the amendment would permit the Director of Planning to finalise technical details; such as landscaping or parking arrangements, for major schemes which are ready for in-principle consideration by the DAB thus shortening the length of the planning process.”
In a statement last night the environmental group BEST stated: “We agree that there are legitimate problems with the Planning applications process that need to be fixed. We do question whether a relaxing of the rules is the most useful way to fix the problem. We support greater efficiency but not at the expense of diligence.”