A new Planning Authority board has hit the ground running by clearing a “backlog” of 57 applications in three weeks, Premier Andrew Fahie said Friday.
The approved projects, he said, include “subdivisions and developments.”
“The work of rebuilding the home, infrastructure and commercial properties in the Virgin Islands has been progressing well, especially during recent times,” Mr. Fahie said in a statement. “However, your government recognises the need for enhancing this process and expediting whatever projects are in the pipeline — whether it is in the private sector or the public sector.”
To that end, he said, the government recently appointed the new Planning Authority board, which includes Chairman Charles Cooper, Lucien Thomas, Edward Freeman, Keith Malone, Clifton Thomas and Elvis Harrigan.
They will serve alongside the ex-officio members: the chief planner, the director of public works, the director of disaster management, and the chief conservation and fisheries officer, he said.
Under the Physical Planning Act 2004, one of the board’s statutory mandates is to regulate development, the premier explained.
The board, he added, has pledged to meet twice a month instead of once as a month as in the past to ensure that applications are processed more quickly.
“This is great news for our construction industry, for business owners, for local and foreign investors, for home builders, for employment opportunities, but most importantly this is good news for our economy and the people of the Virgin Islands,” he said, adding, “This is important for bringing our economy up to full throttle, especially since Irma in 2017.”
He also stressed the importance of green building technologies.
“This means harmonising designs — whether it is for public infrastructure or residential and commercial buildings — with natural elements such as wind for cooling and ventilation, or solar for lighting and heating,” he said. “It means building more energy-efficient structures that not only consume less energy but that waste less energy, and that contribute to lowering adverse environmental impacts if not eliminating them entirely.”
The new board, he said, will help the public to better understand such technologies.
“This may require review of our legislative framework, for instance in the area of building codes,” he said.