THE EDITOR, Sir:
I respond to a letter to the editor by architect Al Richards ('Overhaul system of building approvals', Gleaner, October 12, 2013), as the issue of obtaining building approvals is quite frustrating, costly, counterproductive, and has been stagnating the provision of housing, commercial developments, and national development, in general.
Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, while campaigning in 2007, promised to reduce the processing time to 90 days. During his tenure, much effort had been made to get the local authorities to comply within the stipulated 90-day period.
The truth is, there has been a great level of resistance from the parish councils. The solution is still expected from the new Building Act and the reform of local government.
But here is the real issue. Where there is no collaboration and where there are competing goals, the joint objectives are bound to fail. All the stakeholders must buy into a programme and commit to a common goal. The opportunity for selfish ideals and corruption must be addressed squarely and urgently.
Let us understand some of the underlying issues that are at play and why the parish councils resisted the opportunity to do things differently. These are power and revenue. Who benefits? Who loses?
Additionally, the institutions are not equipped with the necessary framework, personnel and technology to facilitate and drive the level of efficiency that we aim to achieve.
The National Environment and Planning Agency and the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, as well as the parish councils, must coordinate. Approximately 80 per cent of the applications sitting at the local authority are for subdivisions of nine units and under. This is where the industry's lifeline really is.
I agree with Mr Richards that there should be an updated Building Code and in it must be the procedures for submitting an application. There must be a system at the receiving agency to cross-check the application for errors. This will save time and energy!
There should be a database established by the National Water Commission that shows the areas where sewage lines exist. Too often, subdivision proposals fail to proceed long after money, time and effort have been expended.
Who will take responsibility for these reforms?
CARLENE SINCLAIR (JP)
President, Realtors Association