Environment Minister, Earl Deveaux, along with other officials from the Ministry of the Environment, announce the enactment of the 2010 Planning and Subdivisions Act, Forestry Act, and the Bahamas National Trust Amendments Act as of January 1, 2011. The new Acts are designed to protect the zoning of residential areas from the rapid urbanisation taking place in New Providence that depreciates the value of residential areas while transforming them into industrialised business districts. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
The Bahamas – Rapid urbanisation and the expansion of unregulated business
activities are over-commercialising residential neighbourhoods. The
growing practice threatens to depreciate the safety and stagnate the value of
residential property, while they are transformed into industrialised areas.
“The Planning and Subdivision
Act came into force on January 1, 2011 and The Forestry Act January 4, 2011. As
well, the Bahamas National Trust Amendment Act was also passed and is now law,”
said Environment Minister, Earl Deveaux.
“The Planning and Subdivision
Act, in particular, will be the primary means whereby the built environment of
The Bahamas will be ordered and regulated.”
The 2010 Planning and
Subdivision Act, Forestry Act, and new amendments to the Bahamas National Trust
Act established order to the chaos created by numerous unaddressed business
By strengthening the
consequences for violating the zoning protocols, the Government expects to
reverse the current trends that are lowering the standards in the inner city
Earl Deveaux - Environment Minister
“Several regulations have
been promulgated. The Department of Physical Planning regulations, the
Town Planning Committee rules, the Planning and Subdivision Application
requirements, Planning and Subdivision public notices, and the Subdivision
Development Appeal Board rules,” said Dr. Deveaux.
Effective January 1, 2011,
the Bahamas Government attempts to resolve constituent complaints by taking
action within various public agencies to enforce the new laws in the densely
populated residential areas of central New Providence.
are a lot of infractions, particularly with regard to unregulated business
activities or encroachments in traditional neighbourhoods. For example,
the Mario’s digital sign is an illegal sign and they have been given a notice
to take it down within 14 days. There are a number of them on Shirley
Street and Prince Charles Drive and things like that intrude on a neighbourhood
and creep into a community if you don’t enforce them,” said Dr.
occupying single-family homes must obtain proper business licensing and home
renovation permits from Government in order to alter their homes for commercial
The business district in Palmdale emerged from a quiet residential neighbourhood. It has since developed into a commercial and warehouse zone for traditional Bahamian businesses. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
“If there is an obvious
infraction of a zoning regulation, between the Department of Physical Planning,
Environmental Health, and the Building Control Division, we will be able to
determine exactly which agency is best capable of dealing with it”, said Dr.
“Say you have a garage
creeping up or someone has converted a residence into a business that’s inappropriate
for the area, the first process would be to identify it and issue a stop order
and prosecute the person. We are trying to arm the departments to take
these matters to the environmental court and prosecute them
Bahamian residents have been
unable to manage the high security and crime watch demands in their
neighbourhoods, as unmonitored patterns of traffic moving through private
subdivisions have invited opportunities for an increase of criminal activity.
Pyfrom Road, known as Bar 20 corner, is a perfect example of how a quiet residential area can be transformed over time into a business district, if residents disregard town planning and zoning laws that prohibit unregulated commercial activity in residential neighbourhoods. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
“The island of New Providence
has been catalogued into 22 planning districts and the districts broken into
zones to accommodate development. The major zones are residential, which
has five subcategories, commercial, which has three subcategories,
institutional, which has three subcategories, and industrial, also with three
subcategories. As well as, agricultural and green space, which
essentially accommodates the forests,” said Dr. Deveaux.
“We are here to highlight the
various Acts, the regulations and to underscore their importance to our
country’s continued growth and development. Together the Acts seek to
protect the natural environment of The Bahamas and to set out the process of
approval, licensing, permitting for development, and mitigation of
impact. The Acts prescribed are a process of regulation, public notice,
consultation, which are all important to community building and shared
Slide Show - The business activity is creating an inner city atmosphere in traditional residential neighbourhoods, attracting an intensity of high traffic throughout single-family home areas and exposing them to be victims of criminal activity (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
External cultural influences
have compromised the traditional Bahamian shared values with the impact of
cultural diversity. The Act addresses the regulation of roadside vendors
from conducting business transactions without a proper permit.
garages are increasingly evident. Small businesses, hairdressing
businesses, printing businesses migrate into small convenience stores, and
water sales. With the Business License Act that was recently passed and
the Planning and Subdivisions Act, you’ll have two means of dealing with
it. Anyone operating a business on the road will have to get a
certificate from the landlord to show they have permission to operate a
business from there,” said Dr. Deveaux.
Digital advertising billboards are creeping up in high traffic residential areas and are a violation of the 2010 Subdivisions and Planning Act. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).
new laws are the Government’s response to decrease the flow of high volume
commercial traffic into these zoned subdivisions and resolve the overcrowding
issue in central New Providence. Law enforcement of the new Act will
reduce the intensity of land use and residual criminal activity that is
emerging from residential areas transforming into business districts.