Stronger Penalties For Unauthorised Development

November 24, 2018

New amendments provide the Department of Planning with additional powers to take action against those who proceed with unauthorised development, by imposing penalties including the “enforced removal of already built unauthorised structures,” Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday [Nov 23], Minister Roban said, “The Planning Amendment Act [PDF] became operational on the 1st September 2018. The amendments seek to improve the enforcement process, enabling the Department of Planning to achieve greater efficiency which will result in effective outcomes.

“The prevailing attitude of many towards developing without obtaining permission is a ‘build now then ask for forgiveness later’ attitude. This legislation seeks to address such an attitude and make it clear that it will no longer be tolerated.

“Such prevailing attitudes are illustrated in examples of projects that include building living accommodation extensions and a new swimming pool; a second storey addition to create an industrial warehouse in a residential area; and excavations involving heavy machinery in a historic protection area.”

“All of these projects were performed without the benefit of planning permission and building permits. In all of these instances, the unauthorised development has either compromised the neighbourhoods, damaged our historic heritage or destroyed conservation areas including areas of woodland.

“These are all matters that Planning legislation is specifically enacted to protect against. The 2018 amendments will provide the Department of Planning additional powers to take definitive action against those who proceed with unauthorised development, by imposing penalties, including, but not limited to, the enforced removal of already built unauthorised structures.

“There are increased penalties for contraventions to the Act that are determined to be criminal offences, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with imprisonment of up to two years.

“When the Department of Planning are notified of a potential contravention of the Act, they will move quickly to investigate and, where contraventions are found, issue the relevant notices to the owner, occupier or agent and contractor.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform Honourable Members and the general public that the Planning Amendment Act became operational on the 1st September 2018. The amendments seek to improve the enforcement process, enabling the Department of Planning to achieve greater efficiency which will result in effective outcomes.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda’s planning laws and regulations are in place to ensure that Bermuda’s environment and beauty are not spoiled by rampant development and construction. They are also in place to prevent what occurred a few weeks ago, i.e. the excavating of an historical protection area and the desecration of a number of graves.

Mr. Speaker, the prevailing attitude of many towards developing without obtaining permission is a “build now then ask for forgiveness later” attitude. This legislation seeks to address such an attitude and make it clear that it will no longer be tolerated. Such prevailing attitudes are illustrated in examples of projects that include:

  • building living accommodation extensions and a new swimming pool;
  • a second storey addition to create an industrial warehouse in a residential area; and
  • excavations involving heavy machinery in a historic protection area.

Mr. Speaker, all of these projects were performed without the benefit of planning permission and building permits. In all of these instances, the unauthorised development has either compromised the neighbourhoods, damaged our historic heritage or destroyed conservation areas including areas of woodland. These are all matters that Planning legislation is specifically enacted to protect against. The 2018 amendments will provide the Department of Planning additional powers to take definitive action against those who proceed with unauthorised development, by imposing penalties, including, but not limited to, the enforced removal of already built unauthorised structures.

Mr. Speaker, the Development and Planning Amendment Act now includes the following provisions: -

  • 1] To disallow the grant of retroactive planning permission where development has been carried out in breach of planning control, unless the applicant shows – to the satisfaction of the Board – that he was not responsible for the breach of planning control or that, at the time the development was being carried out, he did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the development was in breach of planning control.
  • 2] Where it appears to the Director that there may have been a breach of planning control in respect of land, a new notice will be introduced known as a “planning contravention notice”. The notice will be served on any person who is the owner, occupier or user or is carrying out any activity on the land, requesting information about the use or activity on the land and requiring such information to be furnished within a specified time not exceeding 21 days. Lack of information has been a severe hindrance with planning investigations in the past.
  • 3] If a person is in breach of planning control, the Director may serve an enforcement notice on the owner, occupier or other relevant person. If the person does not comply with the requirements of the enforcement notice within the time-period specified [not being a period of less than 28 days] the person is in breach of the notice. However, if the person appeals the notice within the time specified in the notice, the operation of the notice will be suspended pending the final determination or withdrawal of the appeal.
  • 4] A new notice known as a “breach of condition notice” will be introduced, which – once served on a person – requires them to secure compliance with the conditions contained in the notice within a specified time period. Persons that fail to comply with the notice will be in breach of the notice.
  • 5] The former “special enforcement notice” has been renamed to simply a “stop notice”. Such a notice is served in those cases where it appears to be in the public interest to require the immediate cessation of any development of land.

Mr. Speaker, there are increased penalties for contraventions to the Act that are determined to be criminal offences, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with imprisonment of up to two years.

If a person is guilty of an offence for failure to comply with a notice they could be liable:

  • a] on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or
  • b] on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or a fine of $25,000 or both, and, in cases of continuing failure, to a further fine not to exceed $1,000 for every day after the first day during which the failure to comply with the notice continued.

Mr. Speaker, when the Department of Planning are notified of a potential contravention of the Act, they will move quickly to investigate and, where contraventions are found, issue the relevant notices to the owner, occupier or agent and contractor.

Mr. Speaker, I would remiss if I do not speak briefly regarding the excavation of human remains at the Military and Convicts cemetery in Sandy’s Parish. As you are aware, while the investigation continues in this matter, I cannot discuss the details of the investigation. However I can assure the public that action is being taken on this matter. I must also highlight the fact that no permission was sought to excavate in that area.

I must also inform this Honourable House that currently guidelines do not exist to deal with the possibility that human remains may inadvertently be found on a construction site even when owners have received the requisite permissions. I am sure that Honourable Members will agree that no matter the age of the remains, descendants would want their relatives’ remains to be handled with the highest level of respect and reverence. As a result, The Department of Planning is working with other government departments to produce guidelines to ensure that incidents such as the one that occurred in Sandy’s will not happen again.

Thank you Mr. Speaker

Click here banner of real estate 3

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, News

Comments (20)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. J Austen says:

    More socialist bureaucracy… Tax payers strike NOW!

  2. 2 Bermudas says:

    Equally wrong is how long it takes to get something through planning!!

  3. Question says:

    So ordinary people have to accept the rule of law.

    In modern democracies the government has to accept the rule of law as well. We’ll see if that happens in Bermuda.

  4. Bobby Jones says:

    If Planning permission did not take as long as it does and it can take months upon months upon months, then people might not start projects without permission.

    The Planning Department has been extremely slow for decades, they all need to be fired and new efficient staff need to be hired.

    Minister Roban if you can the Planning Department working properly, you will be a hero.

  5. Wahoo says:

    Perhaps another layer would be to require construction companies to hold a license which would be in jeopardy if they are found to be doing illegal work. Hey pop that could be another revenue stream for ya (wink wink)

  6. ConcernedBermudian says:

    This is funny. Yet you, government, allow an SDO for tuckers point to build all over paynters hill, harrington sound road and all over the golf course. No planning permisison for anything, just build away on the pristine land which will end up being sold to foreigners or just lay vacant, just like the other condos. but de locals, oh you gonna get fined or have to wait years to get permission. makes a lota sense.

  7. To the P.L.P. government: Check the many people who built houses under the notorious and vicious oba government. Some of those built structures, must come down…built illegally!!

  8. Billy Bie says:

    Hey Walter – how much you gonna fine your own government for all of the illegal work that was done along Coney Island Road and Baileys Bay Cricket Club? What a bunch of jokers you all are! In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

  9. campervan says:

    A lot of construction workers sitting on their hands waiting for job sites to get planning approval. Come on planning department these guys need work now, not in 18 months time. We got bills to pay.

  10. mumbojumbo says:

    Absolutely ..now my neighbours house is within 6′ feet of my boundry and well there are so MANY building code breaches and such…dug down ten feet on boundry driveway refused to put wall on his own property four feet above grade…escavated over boundry….built over boundry…we are private estate …he is not….trenched and place pvc pipe …altered an install on private estate ( that is why it is private ).

    And a file two inches thick with proper complaints.

    So….I suggest you contact me…and fix this massive encroachment.

    At present I have contmpt for a planning department that has let me and mine down so far….I take what this artical says with a…show me attitude…planning the file has befor and after pictures and many dated complaints.
    And you clowns already have two surveys one was a dispute survey….you lot know where the boundry is!
    So get off your high horse and fix our situation (tip top).

  11. mumbojumbo says:

    Oh…all most forgot….I was the registered contractor that had the surveys done!

  12. Triangle Drifter says:

    How about starting with encroachment by certain businesses around Devonshire Marsh.

    The ineptitude of Planning on processing even a simple straight forward project is legendary. It is no wonder people jump the gun & start work or simply don’t bother with Planning. Time is money. The rest of us don’t move at Government speed.

  13. real talk says:

    Bermuda is a joke. sound like little children. ” you build it without our permission, we will knock it down n make money”. i mean it its a whole house then maybe so but mercy. makes you laugh.

  14. Wow says:

    They will move quickly to investigate? Wouldn’t it be nice if they moved quickly to approve? Dumb a$$e$!

  15. Realist says:

    This would be a reasonable request but the biggest elephant in the room not being addressed is the massive inefficiency of the department of planning. There are waiting periods for development extending 6 months or longer even for minor revisions. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to do a review of the departments operating procedures and poor work ethic first before imposing more legislation to slow them down even further?

  16. Bermy Greens says:

    They are the biggest joke… Plp and planning. Ducking jokers and we Bermudian are so blind sighted by the race war that we will never see the true colors odour island. Politics pile of s&%t . Not even tricks anymore. Just Pure Manure

  17. Marie m. N says:

    Pls be aware that if you rent an apt with electricity included , the property probably has no assessment number because it is illegal.