Premier: Development plan needs to be national

| 12/07/2021 | 30 Comments
The FIN development project (file photo)

(CNS): The previous government’s piecemeal approach to the national development plan could produce inconsistencies in the development of Cayman going forward, according to Premier Wayne Panton. He told CNS that he wants to take a closer look at how PlanCayman has been rolled out with a view to taking a national approach to the development plan rather than area by area. Panton said he was aware of concerns that PlanCayman consultation had been weighted towards developers, and given his government’s focus on sustainability and climate resilience, he said he wanted to see a more balanced approach.

Having created the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency (MSCR), Panton said his portfolio includes the responsibility for revising the national development plan. Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch last week, Panton told the audience that the plan was long overdue and that it will be one of the key areas of focus for the PACT administration.

“If we are to make progress in achieving long-term development goals, we must address sustainable development. Climate change is not a standalone issue and its inherent risks must be integrated into all aspects of development planning,” he said, adding that tackling sustainable development is the only real pathway to increased long-term prosperity. “We need to Grow Green.”

After his speech, Panton told CNS that the development plan needs to be a nationwide project to ensure consistency in the more resilient and sustainable development he wants to see in future. “We can re-imagine how we do things and bring a more balanced approach,” he said.

He told CNS that he would be reviewing what had happened with PlanCayman so far before the public consultation on the Seven Mile Beach proposals went ahead. “I believe we need to take a national approach… It doesn’t make sense to assess the country in different bits.”

Panton accepts that development remains a driver of the domestic economy. During his address to the business community he said that he and his government colleagues were not “averse to, or enemies of, development”, but stressed the need for the right balance. “We must encourage and promote good stewardship of our natural resources and environment and the use of well thought out design and materials that benefit everyone,” he said.

Panton said the country must invest in infrastructure and affordable housing, as home ownership was fast becoming beyond the reach of young Caymanians. He said his government was looking at ways to cut the costs of construction materials and was reviewing duties and incentives for “sustainable and climate conscious developments”.

He also wants to see more transparency surrounding Central Planning Authority meetings. “In the same way that the National Conservation Council meetings are held in public, we want to see CPA meetings also be made public unless there are very good reasons not to do so having to do with data protection or commercially sensitive material. We believe that demystifying the work of the CPA will be to everyone’s benefit,” he said.

In recent years CPA meetings have been partially held in public. The doors have been open to the press and interested parties when developers and objectors are presenting their cases but the deliberations have still been done behind closed doors. The minutes reveal very limited reasons as to why decisions are made and never reflect how much weight has been given to the comments from the various government agencies that submit information to the board, especially from the Department of Environment.

Panton also noted that the CPA’s decisions over the years repeatedly allowing waivers on the high water mark setbacks on coastal properties as a result of precedent had to be addressed. Otherwise, he said, “we will end up with an island of seawalls”.

Recognising the importance of these challenges, he said, “These are the type of issues that require work and they are not easy to address on a short-term basis but we must find a way to do it.”


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Category: development, Local News, Policy, Politics

Comments (30)

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  1. concerned says:

    The Premier needs to initiate an official enquiry into how Fin Development was allowed to cram 44 apartments into a small site with almost zero landscaping. Compare it with the two condo sites either side of it and Oceana closer to town which have attractive landscaping all along the front of their apartments adjacent to the road.Driving along S. Church St, you come accross this mass of chrome plated concrete with not a palm tree or shrub in sight (except 2 small palms inside the entrance).With it’s Berlin wall fronting the road it looks more like Dade County jail and is an affront to all local residents.It is clear that planning laws have not been followed and the public needs to find out why.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or, going forwards, make it a requirement for the CPA to note their rational for varying requirements on approvals along with the approval. So if someone queries a development they can say not just that it was approved but the reason why it was approved different from the normal. (Obviously applications within the rules just need that noted so people know that then the complaint is to the LA about the regs and not the CPA variances.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    The reality is that there is significant income which is needed in Cayman from real estate development.
    There is a significant amount of direct and indirect jobs that the construction industry creates. (Island Paving, NRA, National Concrete, Flowers Blocks, Kirk Home centre, AL Thompson.and all the other jobs that a bigger economy creates.
    Additionally, Cayman can become the greenest country in the world, with no emissions and extreme sustainability but to the bigger picture of Global warming it means nothing.
    There is only a select group in Sound Sound Road of environmentalist that rattle the cage too much for very little benefit to the wider population. Believe me, they don’t care about education for Caymanians nor opportunity for Caymanians.
    Cayman has to stay competitive before companies start looking to hire and move positions abroad which Ive seen a trend starting to pick up.

    Less development = higher housing prices =higher rents = more expensive to higher as salaries need to be higher at some point.

    Yes to development under the guidelines of the CPA with very little room variance, in critical zones.
    Yes to economic growth to pay for Caymanians education and training
    Yes to Cayman developing to its full potential of our people and our island
    And Yes to foreign investment

    • Anonymous says:

      What nonsense. Remove the requirement for expats to buy property for PR and stop the Residency by Investment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Duty concessions for LEED certified developments may be worth exploring. More important is to consider how to lower the cost of access to housing without compromising on building quality, or making Faustian trade offs than raise the cost of occupancy (like subpar insulation).

    • Anonymous says:

      Then you would just complain that Dart is being given concessions

      • Anonymous says:

        If that ends up being the case, it would be due to the failure of other construction companies to embrace more sustainable development practices. Also, Arch & Godfrey have been undertaking a number of LEED projects, to their credit.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Premier I do not want just words. Actions are now required. Get Cayman back on track so that every single project and every single thing that is carried out through the economy will benefit every single person that call Cayman home but especially for the young Caymanians who are going to be our future whether we like it or not.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We have a unique opportunity to share our voice on 10/10/21, the National Census!!

    Why don’t we add some burning questions at this opportunity? It is anonymous and based on indisputable statistics. We do not need another $$$ E&Y, KPMG, or Deloitte report to waste our money. This will encompass every valuable opinion on the island.

    Let the people speak:

    Do we want Cruise ships back in 2022?

    Do we want to grow our population from 65,000 (current) to the previous government goal of 100,000?

    Should expats here over 10 years be allowed to vote?

    Should Immigration cap work permits?

    Should all Planning meetings be public?

    Should we build the port?

    Should we revamp the entire education system? Fire teachers (even with tenure). Should we offer free vocational training?

    Should we leave Smiths Baradere be altered in any way or left alone?

    Should we legalize marijuana?

    Should we nationalize healthcare?

    Should we cap government employee headcount and reduce the size of government by 10%?

    I’m sure there are more, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear this Voice and not be able to dispute the people’s wishes?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because then it wouldn’t be a census

    • Anonymous says:

      12 @ 3:34pm – Good questions! Bet the Census Officials haven’t considered the opportunity for such questions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nice list of issues… But the CIG has no interest in these………………Unless their pockets get filled.

  6. Anonymous says:

    And what will the premier be doing to make solar work for the island? Is he willing to tell cuc to deal with it?

    • Anonymous says:

      CUC is happy to deal with solar power. Just in a managed way. My apt does not produce solar and likely never will. But I sure as heck do not want to overpay those who do. Plus I want to have reliable power 24x7x365. So ALL producers must provide that.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even if it helps the environment?
        I’d be willing to pay a bit extra to reduce our carbon footprint.

        • Anonymous says:

          But what’s a “bit extra” in your opinion? +50% more? +30% more? +10% more?

          My last bill said renewable energy was 3.5% of production for the month, but it was 6.2% of the sum of the fuel, duty and renewable energy charges. So that makes it almost twice as expensive to buy right now? Note sure 100% more is a bit extra, tbh.

      • Anonymous says:

        You should pay people who produce solar a decent rate. It’s not that.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Plan Cayman was a farce not fit for purpose it catered to special interests and financiers of the regressives

  8. Anonymous says:

    Joey Hew and PPM only wanted a roll out for particular areas to satisfy their masters which is what Plan Cayman represents. There was never a focus on a national development plan because that would suit the best interests of Cayman on a national level that was never the objectives of those that control the former government.

    The best chance Cayman will have for a sensible national development plan will come from the PACT government.

    • Anonymous says:

      These developers need to start paying large impact fees instead of all the concessions that the previous goverment was always giving them. We the tax payers get hit for all the road improvements that need to be done plus have to put up with all the extra traffic delays. Just who is going to pay for all the mess that is forthcoming up at the Hurley’s area once all those new developments open up? As far as creating jobs, all these developers are doing is hiring all kinds of people who hold work permit in other fields (gardeners, housekeepers, car washers) and have them working as “sub contractors”. Immigration should be raiding these sites and rounding up all the people working outside the terms of their issued work permit plus fine the developers hard for the infractions. Most are foreign “project managers” who are just riding the wave.

      • Don't Smile Too Much says:

        Developers are already being charged with infrastucture fees and have been so for a good many years. Here is the enabling planning regulation:

        “There is established an infrastructure fund for the purpose of providing funds for development of roads, affordable housing and other infrastructure in the Islands.

        “The fund shall be administered by the Ministry of Finance and allocations and disbursements approved by Cabinet and shall consist of moneys received under regulation.

        “A person to whom planning for development is granted, shall contribute to the infrastructure fund between CI$2.50 and CI$4.50 per sq ft floor area depending on development type and its location, and without prejudice to these amounts, an affordable housing fee is to be assessed at CI$3,000 per hotel room and
        in certain locations, at a rate of CI$20,000 per apartment where the application is for 11 or more apartments.

        “The interest earned on the moneys of the infrastructure fund shall be retained for the purposes of the fund.”

        (One wonders how much the fund stands at now!)

      • Anonymous says:

        This is a crazy comment from someone who don’t understand how the economy works. Developers get charged fees and taxes along the way, they create jobs which bring in duties and more fees. Once the projects are sold there are more duties and imports to furnish and more duties on that. Then visitors come in and that brings more taxes and fees and duties. Then re-sales happen at higher prices and more duties, again! One development has so much trickle down. We need to encourage developers to take the risk and develop and grow the pie and that is how the government will generate more revenue in the future

    • Anonymous says:

      The Pact government will soon realize that income from developments is an indispensable portion of the funds needed to run the country.
      “Sustainable” will be the lip service paid to appease the tree huggers, but back in the real world where bills have to be paid, it will be business as usual.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Panton is wrong. The legal responsibility for the National Development Plan rests clearly with the CPA and by inference the Ministry responsible for the Planning Dept. It doesn’t rest with his ministry.

    • Anonymous says:

      What garbage. The CPA is not responsible for policy, including the development plan. If Panton wants to assign the development plan to his ministry, of course he can do that. You’re either a complete idiot or you’re just making stuff up to cause mischief.

      • Anonymous says:

        Poor you @ 2:11pm

        So misinformed and idiotic with it

        Read the legislation, if you can

      • Anonymous says:

        Why don’t you just go back to your special area because all the CPA was doing was taking care of the favored elite.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry but you are talking the nonsense. I suggest you read the Development and Planning Law. It’s quite clear that it is the CPA’s Plan… legally they ‘own it’. They trigger the whole process .

    • JTB says:

      CPA is responsible for delivering the plan, in terms of ensuring that planning decisions are made in compliance with it.

      Setting the plan is a broader issue, and should take in just about every ministry.

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