“Cowboy development is a thing in the past. From today, we want developments that will improve the identity of our City and create public benefits to Honiara residents.”
That was the message Chairman of the Honiara Town and Country Planning Board and Deputy Mayor Eddie Ngava delivered to local architects and engineers who attended a Practitioners Workshop on the new Honiara Local Planning Scheme.
About 20 practitioners attended the workshop last Thursday, organised by Honiara City Council Town and Country Planning Board, supported by Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey and the Secretariat of Pacific Community (SPC).
The workshop provided an opportunity for local architects and engineers to find out firsthand how the new Honiara Local Planning Scheme 2015, which came into effect on 13th October 2015, will affect future development proposals in Honiara.
“We want to revitalise the City and create a better future for our residents. It is through the cooperation between the Board and private land owners and developers that we can achieve a better future.
“The Local Planning Scheme has shown us the potential and opportunities in our city. We ask for mutual respect between designers, land owners and the Board so that the visions proposed in the Scheme can be realised,”, said Mr Ngava.
Attendees also learnt about the new requirements for submitting their planning proposals to Honiara City Council and how the Council’s tightening enforcement practices to ensure unauthorised developments are adequately addressed.
To help everyone understand the new Local Planning Scheme, we’ve compiled a list of 10 things everyone should know about the HLPS.
1. Roads are for roads, not shops, markets or stalls. All roads are given a ‘Road’ zone to be protected as public roads. Developments within road reserves are strictly not permitted.
2. Car parking for private developments must be provided INSIDE the development site, not outside. Roads are not car parks. Car parking requirements generated by new developments must be accommodated within the development site.
3. Loading and Unloading need to be taken out of the public road reserve. New developments need to demonstrate how their goods are to be loaded into the shops. Uncontrolled loading and unloading from the front of the shops creates major congestion and pedestrian safety issues and this will no longer be permitted.
4. Buildings need to be slim and tall, not short and fat. The current building designs are all boxy, short and wide. They are ugly and do not contribute to a good streetscape. Slim and tall buildings with nicely designed front elevations create good streetscape and an identity for the city.
5. Landscaping is the most important element in our city. All developments must provide some landscaping because it adds to the character of the city, softens the hard concrete mass and provides shades and breeze.
6. Water is not an extension of the land, it is only there to support the development on the land owned by the same person. Large scale landfill that creates an entire development platform will not be supported. Filling of and development on the sea can only be carried out if the development supports the land uses immediately adjoining it on the land.
7. Special attention on ground floor presentation. The ground floor shops interact with the pedestrians who can be locals and tourists. The way the ground floor shops are presented to the street is important. Harsh metal bars and blank concrete walls are no longer acceptable. The better solution will be to incorporate glazing and good quality security screens to create more attractive shopfront.
8. New subdivision must be supported by infrastructure. The old way of doing subdivision where no provisions were made for road construction and utility connections are no longer acceptable. New subdivisions need to be master planned and must include an appropriate circulation pattern, land use structure and utility provision prior to the release of the individual lots for development.
9. If development proposal is not permitted under the Local Planning Scheme, the land owner simply cannot build it. This is even if land owner has received a title on the land. If the proposal is prohibited under the Local Planning Scheme, a valid land title does not mean an immediate right to construct whatever the title holder wants.
10. Honiara is full of constraint lands, so respect these constraints and design the proposal accordingly. There are areas subject to flooding and storm surge. Underground or overhead utility lines can also traverse development sites. Respecting these constraints in design proposals would allow developers to deliver a safer and more responsive development that also ensure the better functioning of the city.
The Honiara Local Planning Scheme 2015 provides the guidelines for all developments within the City. The Town and Country Planning Board is now taking a tough stand on planning applications to ensure compliance with the Scheme.
Any proposals that do not comply with the minimum requirements of the Scheme is not complete will be sent back to the applicant without assessment.
The HLPS is available on the Council’s website: Planning or Zoning in Honiara
By Connie Lau
Planning and Policy Adviser
Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey