About the Planning Division
The Division is housed at Ebene Tower, Cybercity, Ebene. The Planning Division, being a technical section of the Ministry, advises the Minister on the optimal use of our scarce land resources. The staff includes professional planners made up of a Chief Town and Country Planning Officer, a Deputy Chief Town and Country Planning Officer, Principal Town and Country Planning Officers, Senior Town and Country Planning Officers and Town and Country Planning Officers as well as a support staff made up of Senior Planning Assistant, Development Control Officers, Chief Technical Design Officer, Principal Technical Design Officer and Technical Design Officers.
The importance of Town and Country Planning
A proper planning system is vital to our quality of life. A successful planning system promotes economic prosperity by delivering land for development in the right place and the right time.
Mauritius has a "plan-led" system of development control. Development plans have two purposes: to describe the intended use of land in an area and to provide an objective basis for the consideration of planning applications. There are two types of plans in Mauritius: The National Development Strategy which provides a strategic framework for national land use planning and local plans known as Outline Schemes which are regional plans for a Municipal City Council Area or a Municipal Town Council Area or a District Council Area. Outline Schemes provide the framework for Local Authorities to plan, shape and control the use of land within their area. They translate the national strategy to the local level.
Development Control is necessary to ensure that developments are properly implemented such that the overall character and amenity of the area are not adversely affected. In Mauritius, the Local Authorities are empowered by the Town and Country Planning Act 1954, the Local Government Act 2011 and the Building Control Act 2012 to grant planning permits; a permit is required for the development of land and development is defined as involving:
o building operations;
o change in the user of land and buildings; and
o subdivision of lands.
The law also makes provision for appeal against the decisions of the Local Authorities, on application for Building and Land Use Permits. Such an appeal is made to the Environment and Land Use Appeal Tribunal which is located at Astor Court, Lislet Geoffroy Street, Port Louis.
Town and Country Planning plays an important role by helping to strike a balance between development and the protection of the environment and to achieve social equity through a better spatial distribution of the benefits of development. It protects the natural and the man-made environment both for the benefit of present and future generations, whilst at the same time ensuring that development and growth are sustainable.
A new Planning and Development Act was passed in 2004 whereby some sections were proclaimed.
Specific responsibilities of the Planning Division
The Town and Country Planning Division of this Ministry is responsible for land use planning including policy formulation in respect to land development. The current responsibilities of the said Division are as outlined below:
o to advise the Minister on land use planning, land development and associated policy issues;
o to follow-up the implementation of the National Development Strategy;
o the management (including development control) of all State Lands;
o to submit planning views on land parcelling applications received from the Morcellement Unit;
o to submit planning views on all cases of modification of Outlines Schemes received from the Town and Country Planning Board. The Planning Division is also represented at the level of the Town and Country Planning Board.
o to advise local authorities on development control applications;
o to appear before the
§ Board of Assessment
§ Environment and Land Use Appeals Tribunal
§ Courts for cases under litigation.
o to advise other Government organisations on interpretation of policies in the National Development Strategy, Planning Policy Guidance and Outline Schemes;
o to submit planning views on applications for land conversion permit at the Land Conversion Committee of the Ministry responsible for Agro-Industry;
o to submit planning recommendations on Preliminary Environmental Report (PER) / Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) applications received from the Ministry responsible for Environment. The Planning Division is also represented in the EIA Committee of the said Ministry;
o to prepare Action Area Plans;
o to prepare and update Planning Policy Guidance;
o to review the National Development Strategy;
o to advise the appropriate Ministry on land use planning in Rodrigues and the Outer Islands; and
o to promote public awareness and participation in planning.
State Land Management
The Ministry manages lands belonging to the State; it has powers under various legislations (e.g the Pas Géométriques Act , and the State Lands Act , to grant leases over such State lands to individuals. The Planning Division is responsible, together with the Survey Division for controlling development on these leased State lands.
National Development Strategy
The Planning Division is also responsible for the preparation of a National Development Strategy for the Island of Mauritius for the provision of a national framework for the formulation of Outline Scheme for Council Areas and development and environmental control criteria for the effective monitoring of physical development and environmental management at local level; and to provide a spatial framework for public sector investment programme. A mid-term review of the National Development Strategy will soon be carried out by the Planning Division.
A Planning Policy Guidance is prepared by the Planning Division in order to create a set of performance criteria and design standards that are applicable to most forms and scales of development for use by individual site owners, developers of major projects and for assisting Government and Local Authorities when considering permit applications.
Preparation of Outline Schemes
According to the Town and Country Planning Act , the Town and Country Planning Board is responsible for the preparation of Outline Schemes. However, since the Town and Country Planning is not staffed with planners, the responsibility of preparing such Outline Schemes devolves upon the Planning Division of this Ministry. The Planning Division has finished the review of the Outline Schemes for the City Council Area and Municipal Council Areas. The review of the Outline Scheme for District Council Areas will be effected once the mid-term review of the National Development Strategy would be completed.
Modification of Outline Schemes
Once an Outline Scheme is prepared and approved, the Town and Country Planning Board may modify the scheme, if so required. The modification of an Outline Scheme may be effected on account of events which have occurred since the making of the scheme. Such modification exercises are undertaken by the Planning Division on behalf of the Town and Country Planning Board.