50th Anniversary Celebrations: Honorary Members Recognised for Outstanding Contributions

We marked our 50th Anniversary (1968 – 2018) with the election of three Honorary Members.  This is in recognition of their outstanding contributions to town planning in the island, and the three honorees are as follows:

  • former Chief Town Planner Luther Bourne;
  • former Chief Town Planner Lionel Nurse; and
  • specialist planning and environmental lawyer Christine Toppin-Allahar.
Left to right: Christine Toppin-Allahar, Lionel Nurse and Luther Bourne

The presentations to the honorees were made by Hon Marsha Caddle MP, Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, who thanked them for their outstanding contributions to town planning in Barbados at a reception event held at the Radisson Hotel on 6th July, 2019.

The Minister went on to say that this is an important time for town planning in Barbados.  The Planning and Development Act 2019 is a major step forward and gives us the framework for a modern town planning system that matches the needs of Barbados in the twenty first century.  However, more work needs to be done before that Act can be proclaimed and implemented.  Minister Caddle said these changes involve challenges for both public servants and for the private sector but it would be worth the effort in that it will give us a system that facilitates the development and investment that the country needs.

BTPS – our history and our work today

The Society (originally called the Barbados Town & Country Planning Society) was founded in 1968 at a meeting convened by the late Leonard St Hill.  We are celebrating completion of our first 50 years.  The principle objective of the original rules was “the promotion of the study of land use planning and the provision of a forum for the development of informed public opinion on all planning matters for the improvement of the community as a whole”.  This broad aim has been central to the Society’s work for 50 years.

The Society has always been outward looking.  It includes professional planners from both the public and private sectors and since 1972 has welcomed people from related professions or with an interest in planning to join as Associate Members.

BTPS has always had an international perspective.  In 1970 Richard Gill (now Past President of BTPS) was one of the people who drafted a constitution for the Commonwealth Association of Planners.  We have continued our involvement with that body ever since.

BTPS is also active in the Caribbean Planners Association.  Our President, Dr Yolanda Alleyne, is Vice President of CPA and is working with colleagues to achieve the accreditation of planning schools in the region and on accreditation standards for planners.  Locally, this will translate into a proposed Planning Profession Bill which will set standards of professional competence, a code of ethics and requirements for continuing professional development.

In 2014 we hosted the Caribbean Urban Forum – an annual conference for planners, related professionals and academics from across the Caribbean (not just anglophone).  This was a very successful event and we expect to be asked to organize the event again soon.

In Barbados we continue our work to promote an understanding of planning in the wider community, to promote planning as a profession (particularly as a career for young people), to encourage best practice and to discuss planning issues that have major consequences for the future of the island.  A major example was our 2015 Symposium on Modernization and Transparency in Planning which we followed up with a Prospectus recommending improvements to the planning system in Barbados.  In recent years we have also held seminars (some with related study visits) on:

  • Updating the Physical Development Plan
  • Improving the nation’s health and wellness – planning and health
  • Water resource management
  • Ridge to reef – planning and climate change
  • Developing within the UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Renewable energy

BTPS also assisted the Prime Minister’s Office in organizing and delivering the stakeholder events that started off the process for reform of the town planning legislation in the island.

Planning is a small profession in Barbados and BTPS is a small organization.  However, we like to think we make a contribution beyond our size.

The Three Honorees

To mark our 50th Anniversary BTPS decided to invite three individuals to join as Honorary Members.  Our rules allow us to do this where someone has made an outstanding contribution.  This is the first time we have done this and we are honouring three outstanding people.

Luther Bourne

Luther was educated at St Andrews Church Boys School, the Alleyne School and Harrison College.  His first degree was in Economics, History and French at London University.  He has an MA in International Relations (Johns Hopkins) and Diploma in Town Planning (Newcastle) and qualified as a chartered town planner (Royal Town Planning Institute).

Luther taught in St Kitts and worked for the Federation of the West Indies before joining the TCDPO as a planning assistant in 1964 and working with the UN team on the first Physical Development Plan.  Luther returned to the office after completing his postgraduate training and was appointed head of the department in 1970.  He was the first Barbadian Chief Town Planner and held the role for 14 years – developing the organization over that period as well as overseeing growth and transformation across the island.  Luther then became an acting Permanent Secretary in 1984 and Cabinet Secretary in 1990.  From 1992 until 1996 he was a United Nations consultant on planning.

Lionel Nurse CBE

Lionel was educated at Combermere and studied Geography and History at UWI.  He has an MA in Geography from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, an MPhil in Urban Design and Regional Planning (Edinburgh), and also studied at the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the University of Wales (Certificate in Protected Landscapes Planning).  Lionel qualified as a chartered town planner (Royal Town Planning Institute).

Lionel started as a trainee in TCDPO in 1976 and worked in different roles before becoming Chief Town Planner in 1984, holding that post until 1998.  He was a Permanent Secretary from 1998 until 2014.  As Chief Town Planner he worked on two updates of the Physical Development Plan, introduction of special control for Harrison’s Cave, introduction of water conservation measures, the Adams Barrow Cummings land use study, the first steps towards computerization in the 1980s, the 1987 Bridgetown Physical Development Plan, development of Warrens as a strategic sub-centre, and the introduction of Environmental Impact Assessments.  From 1991 to 1994 Lionel served on UNCHS (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements).  More recently, he worked as part of the consultancy team on the draft amendment to the Physical Development Plan 2017.

Christine Toppin-Allahar

Christine was educated at Queens College, winning the Barbados Additional Scholarship for Girls in 1967.  She has a BA in Geography and Economics from UWI (Mona), an MA in Geography and Planning (Toronto), a Certificate in Integrated Surveys for Natural Resource Development (ITC, Enschede, Netherlands), LLB (UWI Cave Hill), Legal Education Certificate (Hugh Wooding Law School), and a Certificate in Legal Drafting from the International Legislative Drafting Institute, Tulane Law School, New Orleans.

Christine worked in the Town & Country Planning Division, Trinidad and Tobago (1972-1980) and as a Housing Planner in the Ministry of Housing, Lands & Environment in Barbados (1980-82).  As an attorney-at-law she has worked for the Attorney General’s Department in Trinidad & Tobago and in private practice.  As a specialist in planning, environmental and land law she has advised private clients, Governments and international agencies throughout the Caribbean and further afield as well as teaching and writing on these subjects.  As a legislative drafter she has prepared environmental, planning and coastal zone legislation in Caribbean countries including Guyana, Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda, and St Kitts & Nevis.  Notably, she was responsible for drafting the new Barbados Planning and Development Act 2019.

 

New Barbados Planning Act Approved in 2019

When Prime Minister Mia Mottley was elected in May 2018 one of her first actions was to start a programme of radical planning reform in Barbados. The existing legislation was in its essence over 50 years old and pre-dated Independence. It operated in a closed and opaque manner and was seen as being at risk of corruption as well as being tortuously slow. The new Prime Minister stated that planning reform was “mission critical” as part of her overall programme to address the country’s severe economic problems and remove barriers to progress.

The Planning and Development Act 2019 aims to provide a system that is open, transparent, accountable, inclusive and efficient – fit for purpose in the context of a Small Island Developing State in the twenty first century. The legislation provides for a new Planning and Development Board that will consider complex applications while the majority will be delegated to the Chief Town Planner. A new Appeals Tribunal is also being established.
Innovative elements include a “provisional refusal” to allow for extra negotiation and “approval in principle” at the concept stage (replacing the traditional outline consent which is planning permission in law). The system is being opened up, with much more opportunity for public participation and public access to information. The new Act was passed by both Houses of Parliament in January 2019.

Barbados Town Planning Society (BTPS) has long argued the case for reform of the system and back in 2014 held a Symposium on Modernisation and Transparency in Planning. This was followed by publication of our Prospectus for Change in 2015 which set out detailed recommendations for reform.

Following the May 2018 General Election, BTPS worked with Government to deliver two stakeholder events in July 2018. The Prime Minister attended and spoke at both, showing how important she regards this reform. Both events were live-streamed. The Prime Minister then appointed a consultancy team consisting of three BTPS members and a specialist planning and environmental lawyer to deliver the new legislation. That team then prepared a Green Paper for consultation and BTPS submitted a comprehensive response. The consultancy team went on to draft a White Paper and produce a Bill for consideration by Parliament. The team also helped Minister Marsha Caddle MP (responsible for Economic Affairs and Investment) present the proposals at a final stakeholder review and on a radio call-in programme.

Remarkable progress has been made in a six month period. However, the work is not finished yet. The next stage is the drafting of a new Development Order, a new Use Classes Order and new Regulations to support the Planning and Development Act. There is also a need for a major training and culture change programme to support implementation of the new legislation. Ultimately, it is achieving this change in working practices and attitudes that will be essential to making a success of the new system.

Please see Planning and Development Bill 2018 – A Brief – White Paper which provides insight into the new Act.

Please note that as of the date of this post, the new Act is still to be proclaimed.

Court decision will make planning delays worse!

Planning decisions on beachfront and agricultural land have always taken too long but the system has been thrown into confusion following a legal decision by Madam Justice Cornelius.  As a result of the judgment all of these cases are no longer being dealt with by the Chief Town Planner but are being passed to the Prime Minister’s Office to be processed.  As the Prime Minister’s Office does not to our knowledge employ qualified Town Planners these applications are not currently being dealt with.  A solution needs to be found quickly or the system will grind to a halt.

BTPS Six Men’s Judgement press release revised

PDP 2017 Community Meetings

The Physical Development Plan Amended 2017, for Barbados is intended to provide a vision for sustainable growth and development of the nation by setting out policies to guide relationships among land uses, built form, mobility, community facilities and physical infrastructure. It is also intended to be a framework to facilitate and guide investment, both public and private, in Barbados to the year 2035 to advance a healthy, prosperous and resilient nation.

The Town & Country Planning Office will be accepting comments regarding the Draft PDP Amendment 2017 until 15th March 2017. Comments can be submitted to the email address pdp@townplanning.gov.bb or via the comment form on the PDP website (see link below).  The PDP can be downloaded in sections from there as well.

http://www.townplanning.gov.bb/pdp/

There are also a series of community meetings planned. See below flyer.

Barbados Physical Development Plan Amendment 2017
Barbados Physical Development Plan Amendment 2017

New Publication – Delivering Better Development: The role of the urban and rural planner

The RTPI will be celebrating this year’s World Town Planning Day (WTPD) with sister institutes and planners across the globe with a big programme of activity and the publication of a vital new guide, Delivering Better Development: The role of the urban and rural planner.

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Aimed at non-planners including politicians, community leaders, architects, engineers, environmentalists and those interested in studying planning, the guide, written in conjunction with the Global Planners Network (GPN) , sets out a very powerful case for the part planning and planners can play in helping to tackle some of key challenges we face globally.

For more information, please visit the RTPI’s website by clicking here.

August 2015 Publication: Transparency & Modernisation of Planning – A Prospectus for Action

This  report  makes  the  case  for  transparency  and  modernisation  of  the  planning  system  in Barbados  on  economic,  social  and  environmental  grounds.    It  puts forward  a  Prospectus  for Action which sets out a roadmap for fundamental reform along with improvements that can be made immediately.

BTPS Transparency and Modernisation Prospectus_Final

Australian Planner to head up Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP)

The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) is pleased to announce that Dyan Currie from Australia has been elected to the position of President.  At the recent CAP Business Meeting in Singapore Dyan was elected taking over the role from President Christine Platt from South Africa who has stepped down after eight years.  Dyan commences this role having just completed two terms as the National President of the Planning Institute of Australia.

Christine Platt (left)  handing over CAP Presidency to Dyan Currie  (Right)
Christine Platt (left) handing over CAP Presidency to Dyan Currie (Right)

As a major global institution representing over 35,000 planners world-wide CAP plays an increasingly significant role in the promotion of planning to tackle the challenges of urbanisation and in delivering sustainable human settlements.

On being elected as President, Dyan said:

I wish to thank CAPs outgoing President Christine Platt for her amazing dedication to the association by serving for 8 years.  Planning is a global profession and one that unifies planners worldwide in our aim to commit to good planning outcomes that brings prosperity to our communities through the creation of great spaces and places.  

I strongly believe that planning is key to the future of productive, liveable cities and in the management of growth. I look forward to working with planners from around the world to demonstrate the value of planning and its ability to unlock opportunity to support prosperity now and well into the future.”

On behalf of the membership of CAP I would like to congratulate Christine on her appointment as an Honorary Vice President in recognition of her service to the members and the profession.”

Dyan will be supported by Clive Harridge CAPs Secretary- General and a team of Vice Presidents from around the Commonwealth:

  • Christodoulos Ktorides – Vice President, Europe
  • Yusuf Patel – Vice President, Southern Africa
  • Indu Weerasoori – Vice President, South West Asia
  • Dr. Larry Wolfe – Vice President, Americas
  • John Lubuva – Vice President, East Africa
  • Dr Steve Yirenkyi – Vice President, West Africa
  • Dr Belinda Yuen, Vice President, South East Asia
  • Bryce Julyan, Vice President, Australasia – Pacific

In addition CAP has appointed Viral Desai to lead CAPs Young Planners’ Network and Alicia Yon to lead CAPs Women in Planning Network.

CAP is a not for profit organisation which seeks to focus and develop the skills of urban and regional planners across the Commonwealth to meet the challenges of urbanisation.   CAP represents town and country planners from 24 countries throughout the Commonwealth.