Rowley moves on Issa Nicholas
FRANCIS JOSEPH Wednesday, April 16 2003
PLANNING and Development Minister Dr Keith Rowley expressed shock when he found out that Issa Nicholas Development Company Limited was granted “full planning permission” to erect a multi-million dollar town house complex at Goodwood Park without approval from eight other State agencies.
Dr Rowley, the PNM MP for Diego Martin West, pointed out that the approval was granted by his predecessor John Humphrey in spite of significant objections from the Goodwood Park community which was affected by the development. Issa Nicholas, a well-known businessman, is developing an eight-storey block of luxury apartments at the very top of Brook Road. When Newsday visited the site yesterday, there were at least 10 workmen carrying out construction work which is still in the early stages. Residents objected to the development following heavy rains in 2002 which caused significant damage to private property and the roadway in the upscale west Trinidad neighbourhood.
On Monday night, Rowley, who is also a resident of the area, met with about 80 residents to update them on the situation. Noting that proper approval was not given, Dr Rowley said he intends to call in the developer. “I will say to him, look you have standing approval to do this, but the approval is subject to these conditions. It turns out that you have not complied with any of these conditions. We are asking you to stop and seek these approvals and if you get them, they would be valid.” The minister said if the developer refuses to do that, his Ministry will have to take other action. Dr Rowley pointed out that the Town and Country Planning Division can take action by way of enforcement. The third option, according to the minister, is to approach the Solicitor General to go by way of injunction in the High Court to stop the project.
During his meeting with residents, Dr Rowley revealed that Issa Nicholas was granted “outline planning permission” on November 24, 2000 to erect the buildings. But the Goodwood Park resident submitted a letter dated June 21, 2001 to the Town and Country Planning Division objecting to the development. The developer had on May 4, 2001, submitted an application for full planning permission. By memorandum dated July 13, 2001, the Town and Country Planning Division advised the minister of the objections raised by the residents, providing photographs of unauthorised earth works being carried out on the site and sought directives on the matter. The then minister sought the comments of the chairman, Advisory Town Planning Panel, and accepted the recommendation that “full planning permission” be granted for the development. This application was approved by notice dated July 23, 2001 and was signed by Humphrey.
Rowley said the permission was subject to eight conditions which were required to be complied with prior to the commencement of the development. These conditions, he added, included that approval be obtained from the various agencies such as the Drainage Division, WASA, Fire Service, and the Ministry of Works. The minister also stated that no approval was given by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) or the Diego Martin Regional Corporation. Rowley said when the rains came in 2002, which resulted in severe flooding in Goodwood Park, he went to the Diego Martin Regional Corporation seeking information only to find out that proper approval was not given.