Planning Minister not demolishing Hindu temple
With reference to an issue reported in the media regarding enforcement action against a temple located at Road Reserve off Siparia Road, St. Mary’s Village, South Oropouche. The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, would like to highlight the following:
Due to the egregious breaches carried out on the site, the Honourable Minister agreed to enforcement action and the respective enforcement notices were served by registered mail on April 03, 2018. Construction of a structural addition continued unabated despite the issuance of a letter of advice and the refusal of planning permission between 2016 to present. The building did not exist for 50 years, but has only existed on the site for 2 years. This structural addition is the building that is subject to enforcement, NOT the temple.
- The division received a complaint from a member of the public against development being undertaken on the subject site 16-January- 2014.
- Investigations conducted in September 2016 revealed that:
Mr. Larry Hasmatally, one of the owners, was interviewed.
(i) The temple use (Shri Nav Durga Kali Ashram) had been instituted for approximately fifty (50) years and was opened to the public for approximately 10 years.
(ii) The existing development on site consisted of 4 structures :
Ø Three (3) established structures and one three (3) storey structural addition under construction which consist of:
Ø A sub basement;
Ø Basement and
Ø Ground floor at road level
(iii) The three (3) storey structural addition was incomplete at the time of the site visit.
(iv) All of the structures on the site are not conforming to applicable site development standards. However, the issue of the complaint was the three storey structure under construction.
The division received a complaint from a member of the public against development being undertaken on the subject site 16-January- 2014.
(i) A letter of advice dated January 14, 2016 was issued to Mr. Larry Hasmatally and the TCPD advised to submit a plan.
(ii) An application referenced T8N/1007/2016, submitted to TCPD on April 4 2016, was refused planning permission on April 13, 2016.
The reason for refusing the application as communicated to the applicants were as follows:
1) The site you propose to develop forms part of a large parcel which has not had the benefit of approval for sub division is required under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act Chapter35:01.
The proposed developed is premature.
2) The proposed development does not conform to the following site development standards, which are required to be maintained under present planning policy, as framed in accordance with the development plan for Trinidad and Tobago:-
• a maximum building coverage of 40%.
• a maximum site coverage of 75%.
• a maximum floor area ratio of 1:0.75.
• a minimum building line set back of 7.5m from the face of the building to the property boundary along the road reserve.
• a minimum building line set back of 4.5m from the face of the building to the property boundary along the rare property boundary.
• a minimum building line set back of 3.5m from the face of the building and 2.5m clear from the edge of the eave to the eastern and western side boundaries.
• one loading/unloading bay (7.5m x 3.5m).
• one parking bay (5.5m x 2.5m) for each residential unit.
• one parking bay (5.5m x 2.5m) for each 10m2 of the floor area allocated for the temple.
1) The building on site is inconsistent with no plans submitted in your application.
2) Parking spaces should so be located and designed that vehicles enter and leave the site in a forward direction with sufficient circulation space on site.
3) The cross section drawing and second floor plan was not submitted in your application.
4) From the information submitted the existing building has been built over the drain reserve (1.2m wide). You are required to seek the advice of the Drainage Division on your proposal
5) You are advised to discuss your proposal with the relevant inspector at the South Regional Office on any Wednesday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30.pm.
6) Prior to the resubmission of any application for the development of this site.
(iii) While the refusal letter advised that the matter be discussed, the development continued unabated. There was no attempt on the part of the owners to engage in discussions with the TCPD or to rectify the matter.
(I) The building is a public building which subjects the property to a number of specific requirements including 40% coverage, building line setback distances, however there is no approval for the structural details of all of the buildings constructed;
In this case however, the enforcement notice is against the three storey structure which has not been in existence for forty years as being claimed by the developers. There is no grant of planning permission for construction of the following:
- a sub-basement;
- basement and
- ground floor at road level
(II) All of the existing structures on the site do not have the benefit of planning permission nor requisite approvals from the other relevant approving agencies; but are not subject to the enforcement notice.
(III) Additionally, there are no car-parking facilities to service the development existing on the site as well as; part of the structure is constructed over a drain reserve;
(IV) The Town And Country Planning Act, chapter 35:01 outlines specifically the requirement for the carrying out of development on any land after the commencement of the act and the development undertaken on the subject site does not conform
To reiterate, due to the egregious breaches carried out on the site, the Honourable Minister agreed to enforcement action and the respective enforcement notices were served by registered mail on April 03, 2018. Construction continued unabated despite the issuance of a letter of advice and the refusal of planning permission between 2016 to present. The building did not exist for 50 years, but has only existed on the site for 2 years. This is the building that is subject to enforcement, NOT the temple.
The Ministry of Planning and Development – Town and Country Planning Division is guided by the TCPD Act Chapter 35:01. And the decision to enforce is guided by a number of variables in accordance with the law.