CH&PA seeks to put focus on planning

The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) intends for 2017 to be the year that it embraces its statutory responsibility for planning.

Under the theme “Planning in Guyana and the Role of the Central Housing and Planning Authority,” the agency yesterday launched a two-day workshop aimed at consolidating stakeholder collaboration in supporting its mandate.

Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Adams-Patterson, delivering the feature address, noted that the CH&PA is mandated under the Town and Country Planning Act to address land use planning issues. These issues, she explained, include planning and maintenance of roads, buildings and other structures as well as community planning (layout of housing areas, including density spacing and orientation of housing provision and siting of community facilities).

“Planning is an activity that requires an integrated approach to development,” the minister stressed, before adding that planning in Guyana is currently not at the desired level.

It has been stymied, she explained, by a lack of awareness and understanding of planning, the lack of capacity at the local level to meaningfully address planning issues as well as the overlapping functions of the regulatory institutions and weak collaboration among them.

According to the minister, a failure on the part of government to effectively plan has and will continue to result in others planning communities for the country.  She explained that this is evident in the breaches of planning regulations and building by-laws, encumbrances and nuisances in neighbourhoods, squatting, and desecration of the environment.

She referenced the “fiasco” which occurred when the CH&PA and the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) could not agree on a request from businessman Rizwan Khan to build a seven-storey building at Camp and Robb streets.

While both parties had initially opposed the project, City Hall granted permission while CH&PA was still investigating the matter.  The minister announced yesterday that the matter had been resolved. Khan completed the building to his original specifications.

Patterson told the representatives of several local government organs present at the opening that a key prerequisite for strengthened local governance is proper planning as well as coordinated and harmonised activity.

The workshop is expected to see improvement in coordination and collaboration among all institutions involved in land use planning. It is particularly expected that collaboration between CH&PA and local democratic organs will improve so that these organs will be better able to address violations in their areas primarily through education and awareness of their constituents, resolution of land use conflicts and appropriate appraisal and efficient approval of building permits. “The CH&PA is the principal element in the local planning and housing system and the hub with direct functional links with Regional Democratic Councils and other local organs,” Patterson stressed.

Present at the workshop are CH&PA staff, representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), the Guyana Power and Light Inc, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and the ministries of Public Infrastructure, Education, Health and Public Security.  There are also representatives present from several local government organs. However, the municipalities of Georgetown Mabaruma, Lethem, Linden and Corriverton were unrepresented.

Day one saw presentations in the areas of CH&PA’s role and function within its legislative context; planning in Guyana the role of regulatory agencies in the planning process, spatial planning and national development issues; community involvement in planning; the role of local authorities in planning and developing local areas; and coordination and collaboration: formulating a planning structure.

Day two will be a technical working session, where representatives from key agencies will be selected to participate and make presentations. The technical working session will focus on conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the existing planning system based on the first day’s presentations and discussions.

At the end of the second day, participants are expected to have identified the initial steps for the development of the action plan for an improved planning structure; reached a consensus on immediate actions that can be taken to being the process of alleviating some of the issues plaguing the planning system; and formulated a short to medium-term public communication and awareness strategy that specifically addresses the theme of the forum and its stated objectives. The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) intends for 2017 to be the year that it embraces its statutory responsibility for planning.

Under the theme “Planning in Guyana and the Role of the Central Housing and Planning Authority,” the agency yesterday launched a two-day workshop aimed at consolidating stakeholder collaboration in supporting its mandate.

Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valerie Adams-Patterson, delivering the feature address, noted that the CH&PA is mandated under the Town and Country Planning Act to address land use planning issues. These issues, she explained, include planning and maintenance of roads, buildings and other structures as well as community planning (layout of housing areas, including density spacing and orientation of housing provision and siting of community facilities).

“Planning is an activity that requires an integrated approach to development,” the minister stressed, before adding that planning in Guyana is currently not at the desired level.

It has been stymied, she explained, by a lack of awareness and understanding of planning, the lack of capacity at the local level to meaningfully address planning issues as well as the overlapping functions of the regulatory institutions and weak collaboration among them.

According to the minister, a failure on the part of government to effectively plan has and will continue to result in others planning communities for the country.  She explained that this is evident in the breaches of planning regulations and building by-laws, encumbrances and nuisances in neighbourhoods, squatting, and desecration of the environment.

She referenced the “fiasco” which occurred when the CH&PA and the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) could not agree on a request from businessman Rizwan Khan to build a seven-storey building at Camp and Robb streets.

While both parties had initially opposed the project, City Hall granted permission while CH&PA was still investigating the matter.  The minister announced yesterday that the matter had been resolved. Khan completed the building to his original specifications.

Patterson told the representatives of several local government organs present at the opening that a key prerequisite for strengthened local governance is proper planning as well as coordinated and harmonised activity.

The workshop is expected to see improvement in coordination and collaboration among all institutions involved in land use planning. It is particularly expected that collaboration between CH&PA and local democratic organs will improve so that these organs will be better able to address violations in their areas primarily through education and awareness of their constituents, resolution of land use conflicts and appropriate appraisal and efficient approval of building permits. “The CH&PA is the principal element in the local planning and housing system and the hub with direct functional links with Regional Democratic Councils and other local organs,” Patterson stressed.

Present at the workshop are CH&PA staff, representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), the Guyana Power and Light Inc, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and the ministries of Public Infrastructure, Education, Health and Public Security.  There are also representatives present from several local government organs. However, the municipalities of Georgetown Mabaruma, Lethem, Linden and Corriverton were unrepresented.

Day one saw presentations in the areas of CH&PA’s role and function within its legislative context; planning in Guyana the role of regulatory agencies in the planning process, spatial planning and national development issues; community involvement in planning; the role of local authorities in planning and developing local areas; and coordination and collaboration: formulating a planning structure.

Day two will be a technical working session, where representatives from key agencies will be selected to participate and make presentations. The technical working session will focus on conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the existing planning system based on the first day’s presentations and discussions.

At the end of the second day, participants are expected to have identified the initial steps for the development of the action plan for an improved planning structure; reached a consensus on immediate actions that can be taken to being the process of alleviating some of the issues plaguing the planning system; and formulated a short to medium-term public communication and awareness strategy that specifically addresses the theme of the forum and its stated objectives.

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