… as inter-agency taskforce established to address challengesChief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Lelon Saul, issued a challenge to several employees of the various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) to start developing their own planning schemes to regulate their communities.A section of the NDC officials at the outreach sessionSaul issued the challenge as the Housing Authority held the second of a series of outreaches with local democratic organs at the Regency Hotel in Georgetown. The outreaches are aimed at introducing new Local Government officers with the functions and responsibilities delegated to them in relation to building operations.According to the CH&PA, they have recognised over the years the communication lines between the Authority and the NDCs have not always been too clear, especially when it comes to planning permits and the management of the Government’s housing schemes.“Our focus is to help you get a better understanding of the roles and functions requirements that will hopefully get us to work together and create a stronger relationship with respect to planning control system. We hopefully improve the coordinating system of development control with respect to lands, complaints, building violations and land use contraventions,” Senior Development Facilitation Officer, Denise Pellew noted.Meanwhile, Saul said the CH&PA is empowered under the Town and Country Planning Act to ensure there is orderly development of land, cities, towns and other areas. He further stated that the Act addressed land use and planning with emphasis on sustainable development for a better environment. The CEO informed the more than 50 participants that all building developments must conform to the rules and regulations.“The Central [Housing and Planning] Authority will not be granting planning permit to developers whose activities are against the best interest of their communities or whose activity do not conform to the zoning of the particular area. The Central Authority is reminding developers that they need to obtain planning permits prior to initiating their projects,” Saul informed.“I believe that the local democratic organs must play a major role in planning and development. I therefore challenge you to initiate the development of your own planning scheme. Yes, you can do that at the local development organ, you can initiate the process and we are here to help you. At a minimum, you can zone your district, designated areas for various types of activities while taking into consideration the impact of climate change,” he said.Saul further explained that they have observed that some local democratic organs are sanctioning projects that would fall under the remit of the CH&PA, adding that he hopes the session would bring clarity to the issue, making the NDCs much more aware of their functions.Inter-agency approachMeanwhile, Senior Development Planner Fayola Azore explained that land use planning is important since it is integral as a part of the process of national growth and development and also allows for structured and coordinated approachs to making decisions on development at all levels of Local Government. In addition, she noted that the purpose of development control is not to stop development, but rather it is there to ensure that everything is done within the ambits of the law. “Instead the main purpose is to ensure that orderly, rational and progressive development of land to create sustainable settlements that accommodate a variety of land uses for the people who live in these settlements. It is important that we all work in collaboration for proper execution,” she said.“For too long the planning remit of the chap has been crowded with an inharmonious interagency environment plagues with issues of functional overlaps as well as critical issues of limited consultations and poor coordination in decision-making regarding land use and development,” Azore added.She related that the CH&PA in collaboration with key stakeholder agencies have inaugurated the Inter-agency Coordination Committee. The purpose of this Committee is to provide a consultative forum to effectively address a range of planning and development control issues such as zoning, planning permissions, building regulations, violations and land use contravention and enforcement.Azore explained that building codes are important because they are a set of standards that guide how any development can happen.