Dear Editor,

Thanks for this space to write on this issue.

In front of the Physical Planning Division office (Honiara City Council) stands a board that indicates clearly the services or responsibilities in which the division should work on: physical planning and building inspection namely; under the physical planning-Town and Country Planning Board, Development Services, Site Excavation Works, Land Application, Local Planning Scheme, Tree Preservation and Environmental Management. Building Inspection -Building Stage inspection, Building Quality Control, Advisory Services and Building Plan Inspection.

For the past years observing the approaches and services of the Physical Planning Division provided according to the board in front of the office, which all city do the same throughout; most of the services that the division should be done were (are) not met since the establishment of the division or the country's independence only quite a few were met. I might be wrong here, correct me am not an expert or in a work force either, but this is how I observed it so far. However, the legislation that governs it states the approaches clearly, which is the Town and Country Planning Act [cap.154].

Town and Country Planning Act, (which suppose to amend) stated clearly that the services that the Division has to play are abided by the law. For example, under part 3 of the Act is a Local Planning Scheme. In section 12(1) states "At least once in every five years after the date on which a Local Planning Scheme for any Local Planning Area is approved by the Minister, the Board shall carry out a fresh study of that Local Planning Area and submit to the Minister a report of the study together with proposals for such amendments to the Local Planning Scheme as the Board considers desirable having regard to the said study".

Where is the review of the local planning scheme, since it was imposed in 1977? Is it been done as an interim one, it suppose to be imposed, do not wait until too late. The local planning scheme is important. Section 6[(1a-f)]; everything is stated clearly in the Part 3 of the Act. Where is the Town and Country Planning Act HCC-Physical Planning Division? Does the Division have the Planning commission and planning committee? I believe the Planning Scheme only the answer to proper zoning and make our town planning would be well off. It acts as a sustainable development as well, by minimizing the development and satisfying the interest of the citizens.
Also in the Development services in part 4 of the Act, it is more on development control of land. However, there are informal settlement in our city are not entitled to any development under the local town planning scheme. These settlements are on Government land under the Temporary Occupational Land (TOL) .These are informal settlements-illegal settlers which the Honiara City Council does not recognize. As far as development is concerned under the town and country planning board, these settlements are not entitled to any unless or until they have or acquire a Fixed Term Estate (FTE). So what can you as the body that governs the citizenship of the city can do? But by looking at the informal settlements is continuously booming every year, without approval or acquiring land for FTE from the commissioner of lands. Land application should also be met by the interested citizen who supposes to build any settlement (yes HCC do it right), but most buildings built anywhere they want to build and exterior extension of existing building. This is development by the way, as in the Act defines it as the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land, except for some exception of the purposes of the Act.

On the other hand, the Building inspection, I reckon it should not only carry out in construction stages but should also at least reassess in the interval of 5-10 years. This is to maintain its physical appearance to be in good condition, safety should also the priority. Most building in Honiara also looks deteriorated which are supposed not to function. They are also contributing to the dirt of the city.

Tree preservation and Environment Management should also be a prime consideration within any city; this is where the good and healthy living lies. Tree Perseveration order is in section 27 of the Act, which focus on the restriction or prohibiting and securing trees in Honiara not to cut down, topping, lopping or wildful destruction of trees. But still some places in Honiara, cutting down of trees are still a concern.

Therefore, with most of the responsibilities, the Physical Planning Division under the umbrella of the Honiara City Council should be work seriously on this matter and abide to the Law of Planning to make Honiara a better place. Planning Scheme should be a priority this is to assist in securing orderly development in the interests of the health, amenity, and convenience and general welfare of the community (Honiara citizens). This a matter of proper planning, as planning can be define as the art and science of ordering the use of land and the character and sitting of buildings and communication so as to secure the maximum practicable degree of economy, convenience and beauty. Remember towns and cities are the engine room to all economies. Therefore, the Town and Country Planning Act should be a prime consideration for better environment and it also needs an amendment.