Changes to the application of town planning schemes and the appointment and authority of the Town and Country Planning Director have been set out in the first draft of the revised Town Planning (Amendment) Act 2015.
Under the draft Act, the Director will be appointed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, and no longer by the Public Service Commission (which has since been divided into the Independent Commission and Ministry of Civil Service).
The Director’s approval will also replace the permission of local authority for any land development carried out within a town planning area, during the period before a scheme affecting such areas has been finally approved.
Additionally, the Director will have powers to enter development sites suspected of progressing without a planning permit and issue orders to stop work immediately for non-compliant land developments.
All town planning schemes will require the addition of an approved zoning plan that must include a scheme statement accompanied by explanatory notes, the zoning plan and general provisions.
Land schemes within town planning areas will also need to be submitted by municipal and district councils (which replace the term “local authority” in the Act) when required.
Objections under the Act will also be submitted to the Director and no longer the Board, and the Director is to provide every objector written notices with a copy of the same forwarded to the council.
Amendments to Section 45 include more regulatory clauses by the Minister and extend to forms, fees and charges, procedures for lodgement assessment of development applications and the control of development amongst others clauses.
The Act’s proposed amendments are being presented at public consultations in parts of the Central and Northern divisions this month, alongside a draft of the revised Subdivision of Land Act (140).
Draft copies of the proposed, revised Town Act are available on http://www.townplanning.gov.fj/images/4-11-15__PROPOSED_REVISED_TPA1a.pdf.