Log In

Reset Password

Plan to stop illegal construction

Cracking down: Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, to toughen stance on retroactive planning (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A law to crack down on illegal construction was backed by MPs yesterday.

Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the Development and Planning Amendment Bill 2018 was designed to penalise construction firms who carry out work without planning permission.

Mr Brown added it had become common for landowners and contractors to “build now and ask for permission later”.

He said: “One of the more egregious cases involved someone who built a swimming pool and an apartment so he could profit from the America’s Cup.

“He didn’t ask for permission, but as we were going to issue a demolition order he filed for retroactive approval.”

The new legislation will allow the Department of Planning to slap fines of up to $100,000 on both the landowner and the contractor for breaches of planning law.

Criminal penalties could result in fines of up to $100,000 and two years in prison.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin of the One Bermuda Alliance, said the Opposition supported the purpose of the legislation.

She told the House that breaches of planning regulations could present serious public safety risks.

Lawrence Scott, the Government Whip, said he had received complaints about construction work which had not been granted planning permission.

He added some contractors knew they were in breach of regulations but started work anyway.

He said: “They know they will be fined. They would pass that fine onto their client.”

But Mr Scott added that a $100,000 fine would be much harder to hide on an invoice.

The MP said he knew of a 17ft wall built without permission which collapsed because it was not structurally sound.

Mr Scott said: “The planning process might be a frustrating process, but it has been put in place for the public’s safety.

“Retroactive planning approval will still be available, but it will be much more difficult to get after this bill is passed and that’s a good thing.”

Cole Simons, OBA MP, said he backed the amendments.

He added that the Government should consider a campaign to make sure the public understood the regulations.

Mr Simons also suggested the Government look at the rules for listed buildings, which can be expensive and difficult to maintain, as well as rules governing quarries.