What is “development”?

The Planning and Development Act, 2019 defines “development” as: “The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under any land, the making of any material change of use of any buildings or land or the subdivision of land”.

What constitutes a planning application?

A planning application consists of an accurately completed application form, a fee based on the nature of the application and the prescribed number of plans drawn to scale. The Director may also request any additional information deemed necessary dependent on the nature of development being proposed.

What types of development require planning applications?

An application should be made to the Director for the following types of development:

  • Subdivision of land
  • Change of use (land/building)
  • Construction of new buildings/houses
  • Erection of signs
  • Extension/addition to a building/house
  • Erection of satellite dishes
  • Operation of day care centre/nursing home
  • The killing (cutting down) of trees

Is an application always required for the erection/alteration of a structure?

No. There is also a system of permitted development, where formal planning permission for the erection/alteration of a structure is NOT required once there is a valid permission for the use of the land for the particular purpose and there are no restrictions on the future use of the land. Additionally, the related activities should be carried out in accordance with planning standards. This system applies to all types of development but excludes land in restricted zones e.g. Zone 1 Water Protection Areas.

What types of planning applications exist?

The main types of planning applications are formal, chattel, permitted development and application to kill a tree. The new Planning and Development Act, 2019 has added some new applications such as: applications to determine whether permission is required, approval in principle, certificate of lawful use or development and applications for the erection of an advertisement.

What is a formal application?

These are those applications which are submitted with full details e.g. waste disposal, drainage, parking layout, elevations of the proposed structure/sign, size of lots to be created. Formal applications can be submitted for all types of development and there is room for flexibility in the assessment of proposals against planning standards and policies. Simple formal applications are generally processed within two months of the date of submission.

How do I apply to kill a tree?

The landowner must complete an application form indicating the location of the site, size of the tree and reason for killing the tree e.g. termite infestation. No processing fee is required.

How far from the road can I site my building or erect a fence?

The building line setback refers to the closest point to the road at which any part of a structure may be erected. The road reserve indicates the closest point to the road at which guard-walls, fences or any other type of enclosure may be constructed or planted. These distances are measured from the centre line of the road. Each class of road has a specific setback as follows:

  • Adams-Barrow-Cummins (ABC) Highway:
    • Building Line: 9.14m (30ft) from the edge of the Government’s Acquisition Line
    • Road Reserve: Edge of Government’s Acquisition Line
  • Class I Special e.g. Highway 2
    • Building Line: 15.2m (50ft)
    • Road Reserve: 6.4m (21ft)
  • Class I e.g. Highway 1
    • Building Line: 9.8m (32ft)
  • Class II e.g. Beckles Road
    • Building Line: 9.8m (32ft)
    • Road Reserve: 5.18m (17ft)
  • Class III e.g. George Street
    • Building Line: 9.8m (32ft)
    • Road Reserve: 5.18m (17ft)
  • Class IV e.g. Curwens Avenue
    • Building  Line: 5.79m (19ft)
    • Road Reserve: 3.96m (13ft)

What portion of my land can I utilize for building a structure?

The amount of land, which could be developed, is determined by the plot coverage. The stipulations are:

  • Residential development—the aggregate ground floor area of the building should not exceed 40% of the net land area
  • Commercial—the aggregate ground floor area of the building should not exceed 50% of the net land area
  • Industrial—the aggregate ground floor area of the building should not exceed 75% of the net land area.

Is there a maximum number of storeys that can be constructed?

Generally, a maximum height of two (2) storeys is allowed for residences and the height of non-residential buildings must be in keeping with the surroundings. However, these standards may be varied depending on the location, the topography of the land, and the ability of the building to conform to other criteria.

Do I need to install a water storage tank?

Depending on the size of your building, a water storage tank for secondary purposes may be required. The specific standards are:

  • Residential buildings measuring  139.4sq.m (1500sq.ft)—278.7sq.m (2,999sq.ft) require a tank with a capacity of 3000 gallons.
  • Residential buildings measuring  278.8sq.m (3,000sq.ft) or more require a tank with a capacity of 6000 gallons
  • Non-residential buildings having a gross floor area of 92.90sq.m (1000 sq.ft) or more are required to have a water storage tank calculated at a minimum rate of four (4) gallons (Imperial) per square foot of roof area.

Do I need to provide parking for my development?

Adequate parking shall be made available for all new and extended non-residential buildings and for apartment buildings i.e. residential buildings of three (3) units or more. The parking requirement is calculated according to the standards set out for the respective use class. Public buildings must provide parking for the physically challenged.

Do I need to make a new application if I want to revise an approved plan?

If the planning standards are adhered to, and the new proposal does not alter the nature of the approved development, a new application would not be generally be required. However, revised plans must be submitted for approval within five (5) years of the date of permission.

What is permitted development certification?

Even though there is a system that allows for the alteration or erection of structures without formal planning permission, an approved plan is required by the lending agencies and for obtaining water from the Barbados Water Authority. Consequently, a special process has been devised to facilitate the approval of these plans.

A letter from the landowner requesting confirmation of the acceptability of the plans, together with the requisite drawings and fee are submitted. This request is referred to as an “SL8” and is applicable ONLY in instances where the Director’s permission for the subdivision does not restrict the future development of the land. The proposed development MUST conform to the Planning and Development Act, 2019.

SL8s are usually processed within four (4) weeks.

Do I need permission to erect a guard wall/fence/paling?

No. These are known as permitted development and do not require formal planning permission. However, these MUST be built at a maximum height of 1.2m (4’) at the front (adhering to the relevant road reserve) and 2.1m (7’) at the sides and the back, but adequate space from adjoining properties should be made available for maintenance.

What about building on the coast?

No structure should be sited closer than 30.5m (100ft) from the high water mark or in the case of a cliff frontage, 9.14m (30ft) from the most landward undercut of the cliff.

What is a Chattel House?

A Chattel house is a dwelling that can be dismantled, transported to another area and reassembled in another area.

If my land is small can I still put a house on it?

Yes, the site is assessed based on its individual merits and with guidance from the Planner, a favourable outcome can be achieved.

Can my neighbour block my view?

There is no legislation on this matter and no person is guaranteed the right to a view.

How many dogs can I have at my property?

You are allowed no more than four (4) dogs on your property. More than this is a kennel and approval is required.

Can I build down in the gully?

No, this is handled on site merit and should be discussed with the planning department.

How far can a house be from a right of way?

A house should be sited 6ft from the edge of the right of way.

Can I plant my trees in the road reserve?

No, any trees, shrubs, hedges or vegetation should be planted behind the road reserve. The road reserve should be also free of boulders or any obstructions except a retaining wall.

What do I need to do to get my certificate of compliance?

A certificate of compliance is issued when all the conditions on your permission have been carried out. The building should have on the roof, all windows and doors should be installed. The internal layout should be the same as was approved. The water tank should be installed and connected to the building to allow for the collection of water. If this aspect (water tank connection) has not been completed, you can only receive a Partial Certificate (this should be verified with your financial institution). For subdivisions, all conditions on the permission must be completed. For example, the roads should be completed, water and light available, open space provided and sidewalk installed, trees planted, etc.

When do I submit my building start letter?

You should submit your building start letter when you have started construction and there is evidence of the position of the structure onsite for example footings and foundation in place.

When does my permission expire?

Your permission expires five years from the date of the original approval. E.g. if you were granted permission on February 14th, 2021 then your permission expires on February 13 th, 2026. Please note the building start letter MUST be submitted before this date.

Can I build on my land if it is in Zone 1?

If the land is vacant no, you cannot. If there is a house on-site which was there prior to 1973 then you can replace or improve the structure. There can be no change of use of the existing residence i.e., to a daycare facility, apartment or even a two-unit home.

Can I build on my land if it is in the Scotland District?

Yes, you can depend on the area where you are located in the Scotland District. Depending on the soil type in the area which is specified by the Soil Conservation Unit, you may have limited development such as a wooden structure only, a single storey structure only or no development.

Can I build on my land if it is in the Arch Cot Study Area?

The Arch Cot Study Area is divided into four zones and depending on the zone you will be required to submit a geotechnical survey for further assessment before a decision can be made.

Do I need a surveyor’s plot to submit my application?

Where possible a surveyor’s plot should be submitted. However, if you do not have a plot the application may still be submitted.

Who can draw my plans?

A qualified architect, draftsman and engineer can draw plans. Please see the Architect Registration Act for the category of development each person can design.

What is the building line splay?

The building line splay is the diagonal setback created when two building lines meet. When two 19ft building lines meet the splay is 5ft; A 19ft building line and any other building lines (32ft, 50ft) the splay is 10ft; Two 32 ft building lines gives a 20ft splay and A 32ft building line and a 50ft building line gives a 20ft splay. The building should not be in advance of the splay.

How much of my agricultural lot can I build on?​

When building on an agricultural lot the area occupied by the house for residential use including the driveway should not exceed 10,000 square feet. Please note the primary use of an agricultural lot should be for agricultural purposes.

What makes my structure an apartment building?

An apartment building consists of three or more self-contained units. A self-contained unit consists of a bathroom, kitchen and living quarters.