Fines coming for builders of improper developments
This file photo shows land being cleared for the construction of houses in St James. Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned developers last Thursday to mitigate against damage caused by improper and unprofessional developments.

THE Government will be imposing impact fees on developers to mitigate against damage caused by improper and unprofessional development.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who made the announcement during his contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate in Parliament last Thursday, said that from these impact fees the National Works Agency and the municipal authorities, where appropriate, will execute a programme to remediate and restore the areas affected.

"The impact fees will be predicated and determined by using a calculation that will take into account the condition of communities prior to the start of construction. The rationale, purpose, structure of the fees, management, as well as the details on the administration and operation of the impact fees, will be outlined in a ministry paper that I will table in the first quarter of the new financial year," he said.

The prime minister lamented that despite the robust economic contributions made by the construction sector, the Government cannot ignore the negative impacts from some of these developments as well as the impact on people who live within close proximity.

He noted, however, that not all developers, contractors and investors present challenges, noting that some are very professional and understand that they must respect the rights of neighbouring property owners.

"They understand that when they come into a community they can't disregard the community. But there are some who do not comply with the environmental safeguards, the planning laws, the Building Act and Building Code. They pay little regard, they negatively impact spaces, they destroy trees and foliage, they damage verges and roads, and they leave behind concrete spill which creates a hazard on the roads. They do this without facing any penalty or having to compensate," Holness said while making it clear that this cannot be allowed to continue.

"We don't want to stop development. We are the Government of development but we are also the Government of order," he emphasised.

In the meantime, the prime minister announced that the Kingston and St Andrew and Pedro Cays Development Order has been confirmed.

"Those who are in development and construction would understand the importance of this. It will help to resolve many of the disputes and conflicts that have occurred in this area," he said.

He further noted that the National Environment and Planning Agency has prepared master plans for the Half-Way-Tree and Constant Spring Road planning areas that are now being finalised, and it is anticipated that the plans will be approved by the Town and Country Planning Authority within the first quarter of the new financial year.

"It is further anticipated that we will be in a position to confirm development orders for St Thomas, St Elizabeth and the Municipality of Portmore in the new financial year," Holness said.

A development order is a legal document that sets out the framework, guidelines and policies for planning and development in parishes and communities.

BY ALECIA SMITH Observer senior reporter

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