Planning and the Barbados General Election 2018

The 24 th May 2018 General Election in Barbados resulted in a landslide victory for the
Barbados Labour Party, taking all 30 seats in the House of Assembly. The BLP’s Election
Manifesto proposed significant changes to the planning system in the island although this
issue probably had no bearing on the result – the incoming Government faces major
problems with the economy, infrastructure, crime, health and education.
The BLP Government proposes to modernize the country’s approach to physical
development planning. It proposes to do this by setting up in its first month in office a
“Mission Critical Team” to review the Town and Country Planning Act and related
regulations, development planning and controls, including the active use of planning gain.
The Mission Critical Team will be mandated to make urgent recommendations to Cabinet on
ways to streamline and expedite the planning process. The manifesto also states that the
development control process will be made transparent and accountable by:

  • providing for neighbours and other interested parties to comment on proposed
    development applications,
  • introducing public hearings for appeals and planning applications for major new
    development, and
  • publishing Ministerial decisions in the media and on-line, together with the reasons
    for the approval or refusal of planning applications.

For planners practising in the UK these proposed reforms will look like the normal way of
working. However, Barbados – like many former colonies – has a planning system based on
UK legislation dating from the 1960s. As a Small Island Developing State, Barbados does not
have the resources to keep its entire statute book up to date and until now revising the
planning system has not been treated as a priority.
Reform is vital. A more open and transparent system is essential if the public is to have any
confidence in it. The country also desperately needs investment, including foreign direct
investment. Respectable investors need the reassurance that the system is fair, efficient
and fit for its twenty first century purpose. For these reasons we support the new
Government’s agenda for planning reform.

May 2018