Town and Country developing zoning code for Port of Spain

Representatives of the Town and Country Planning Division meet with the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects and the Trinidad and Tobago Society of Planners.

The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development is announcing to the public that a draft form based zoning code for Port of Spain has been initially approved, and the next step, involving sectoral consultations have begun involving the Trinidad and Tobago Society of Planners and the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects. 

One of the main objectives of this process is to utilize up-to-date planning theory and current international best-practice approaches and translate these principles into physical development standards turning our capital city around and creating a safe, healthy, inclusive and sustainable physical, socio-economic and cultural environment.  Collaboration and input from some of the key planning and architectural bodies the will help to move the zoning codes from the current draft state to final regularization.  A pilot is also planned for 2018, with an area in Port of Spain being selected to further study what needs to be done and what unforeseen challenges can be ironed out before extending the coding process to the rest of the City of Port of Spain and then the nation.  During the initial stages of developing the code the Port of Spain City Corporation and the National Trust were consulted.

Form based codes are a land use system that regulates the form and intensity of development seeking building form primarily and building use secondarily to create a desired urban form prioritizing walkability and mixed use development.  The Port of Spain Form Based Code can help to reverse some of the problems related to urban sprawl, spearheaded by the Development Planning Unit of the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) of the Ministry of Planning and Development, it represents the linkage between the vision, policies, goals and objectives of the Government and the urban development structure needed to achieve these goals. 

This initiative forms a critical part of Government’s national development objectives as articulated in Vision 2030.  In order to achieve many of these goals there is recognition that the form and pattern of our urban development must create the physical spaces and enable the socio-economic synergies that are vital to our national prosperity.  The new draft zoning code for Port of Spain is based on the following:

  1. Economic diversification and prosperity requiring both the physical space and human collaborations that produce innovative ideas and approaches.  Our urban areas must be designed to enhance innovation and productivity, rather than hamper it.
  2. Reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases, which relies heavily on creating communities designed for physical activity including walking and biking.
  3. In recognizing the need for behavioural and cultural shifts, and engendering an even greater sense of national pride, there is also the recognition that we must design communities to encourage socialization and the strengthening of community ties.  This is key to developing a sense of ownership and pride in our public spaces, and by extension the national well-being.

The new Form Based Zoning Code takes into consideration factors such as safety and security, and streets that are designed for mixed uses have been proven to have reduced criminality due to the numbers of users who will populate the streetscape throughout the day.  Factors such as economic activity, increases in GDP per capita, tourism and cleaner environments are some of the positive benefits other countries have received from the adoption of form based zoning codes.  The Town and Country Planning Division foresees that once made into official enforced policy, the Code will form an integral part of the Government’s plans for breathing life back into the City of Port of Spain initially, addressing some of the key issues that plague our cities.  The Ministry of Planning and Development is highly desirous of making this new Code for Port of Spain a reality and a signature project for the region.  We are certain that with the continued collaboration with our stakeholders the new zoning codes will work successfully.

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