Ministry of Communities, Guyana, Tuesday, September 6, 2016
In keeping with the Government’s vision of ‘the good life for all Guyanese’ and its commitment to creating wholesome and cohesive communities, the Central Housing and Planning Authority over the next three years will be re-aligning its focus. This renewed focus will also be in keeping with the legislative mandate under the Town and Country Planning Act, as well as the Housing Act.
It is against this backdrop that emphasis will be placed on CHPA’s planning function with respect to settlement development and land use control and management which will be integral in the housing and community development process. This will be done by adopting a more integrated and participatory approach in the development and implementation of the housing programme. This programme, in keeping with the Housing Act, will ensure that the shelter needs of low income households are met. Also, as mandated under the Town and Country Planning Act, the CHPA will be strengthening its enforcement arm to ensure conformity to land use permits and land use control policies and regulations as stipulated within planning schemes.
In this regard, the priority areas of actions for the remainder of 2016 through 2020 will include the following:
Strengthening CHPA’s planning function
The CHPA under the Town and Country Planning Act is required to prepare development schemes (spatial development plans) to guide all future development, including housing development and regulated land use through the planning permission process. This mandatory forward planning function was mostly overshadowed by the Agency’s housing function which is to cater for the provision for housing for the working class. The planning function therefore was confined primarily to the design and implementation stage with respect to the preparation of site layout designs and land use control activities. This has contributed to the development of settlements not being guided by an overall spatial (physical) development plan for the area(s) in which they are located.
With the aim of reinstituting government’s priority/value for planning, the CH&PA will be hosting a planning forum that is intended to raise the level of awareness on a number of issues affecting the collaborative and coordinative context of the agency’s planning function. This workshop with its multi-sectoral approach is intended to foster a better understanding of the Authority’s work, and to charter the way forward that embraces a better context for future collaborative works at all levels with other regulatory agencies/bodies, for the orderly and progressive development of our city, towns and other areas, whether urban or rural.
At present, the Central Authority continues to work with other agencies in ensuring that instances of unapproved structures and unauthorised use of reserves are brought into compliance and confirmatory with regulations that govern land use development. In going forward the CHPA will initiate and support the preparation of spatial development and land-use plans in collaboration with Local Democratic Organs and other key stakeholders as mandated under the Town and Country Planning Act that will guide all future settlement development. The CHPA will also focus on existing communities, outside of the Government of Guyana housing schemes, which would have not benefitted from any structured development plans which have resulted in many community development issues such as incompatible land uses, noise nuisance and violations of building regulations.
Housing initiatives for low income households
In concurrence with the statutory mandate, the CHPA will essentially focus on low income earners, who are eligible to benefit from the Government housing initiatives. We recognize that emphasis was not geared towards persons and families of low or no affordability. A preliminary evaluation of the projects implemented in the last seven years revealed that most of the housing developments did not cater for the public needs of low income groups which can be substantiated by the many pending active applications of low-income earners, who have indicated their interest in acquiring shelter solutions.
Government, through the agency, will undertake to provide a range of residential housing solutions that will be affordable, accessible and safe which will ultimately improve the living conditions and the quality of life of the beneficiaries. Such housing solutions would be crafted to ensure maximum efficiency and value for money.
The housing communities to be established will be carefully planned, organized and we will roll- out implementation strategies that will involve the participation of the potential residents upfront and all stakeholders in the planning and execution processes to ensure that wholesome and cohesive communities are a reality.
Consolidation of existing housing, regularised squatting areas
Given the limited resources and the need to make informed decisions, the continued investment in the existing housing areas will be informed through current and comprehensive data and financial information for each housing area. The CHPA’s Board and Management concur that in order to successfully implement the Plan of Action, attention must be paid to the issue of current and comprehensive data.
With respect to the CHPA’s database, although data exist in the system, it is not comprehensive enough to provide the basis for key decisions as it relates to the future intervention within the existing housing areas. To address this information gap, a field exercise will be commissioned during the period September-October 2016 to provide a status of the real situation existing in the field. In addition, critical financial information will be compiled to provide the real financial status for each housing area. The data collection exercise to be commissioned will also provide necessary data to inform policy review with respect to selection of beneficiaries to benefit from the Government’s housing programme. Some important issues that would be addressed in the revised policy include: Applicants’ preferences with respect to location and type of housing solutions; and rigor and stringency in the eligibility criteria to determine housing need instead of desire.
Status report on Perseverance 1000 Homes project
With regard to the Perseverance 1000 Homes Project, to date the Agency has started works on 200 structures, with 141 at different stages of completion. Of the remaining 59 that were handed over to the beneficiaries, the CHPA acknowledges there were defects, and remedial works have begun to rectify these.
The CHPA recognised that a project of this magnitude requires a qualified and experience project manager. To this end the CHPA has finalised the recruitment of a project manager who will be taking up his appointment this month. It is envisaged that with the employment of the project manager, this project will now be expeditiously completed.