Bill spells tough rules for developers

PROPERTY developers will have to start construction within a year of getting a permit to develop land or risk penalties, the Physical Planning Bill 2015 proposes.

The Bill before Parliament is part of the government effort to streamline the construction sector by regulating new buildings or modification of existing ones.

“Where an applicant for development permission has been granted the development permission but has not commenced the proposed project within one year of receiving the development permission, that permission will lapse,” reads section 69(1) of the Bill presently before the National Assembly.

The developer may however seek a one-year extension from the planning authority, who will include the Cabinet secretary in charge of physical planning as well as national, city or municipal director of physical planning.

The decision on whether or not the one-year extension is necessary will however lie with the physical planning chiefs.

“Where the planning authority extends development permission, it may impose conditions on the applicant that it considers fit,” the Bill states.

The developers who begin works after getting the construction permits will also be required to complete them within five years from the date of approval or face penalties. This may hit hard prospective low and middle income developers who prefer to build in bits, depending on availability of funds mainly from savings and personal loans.

“The planning authority may impose conditions or impose fineSto be prescribed in regulations on an applicant for development permission for building works where the applicant fails to complete the building works within five years,” the proposed law spells out.

Developers of commercial and industrial buildings will come under increased focus.

“A licensing authority shall not grant a licence for commercial or industrial use or occupation of any building for which development permission has not been granted by the relevant planning authority,” section 71(1) of the Bill states.

Commercial premises in the Bill include enterprises such as kiosks, shops, offices, restaurants, bars and hotels, while industrial businesses include those relating to manufacturing, processing, distilling, brewing, warehousing and storage, workshops and garages, mining and quarrying, and power generation.

Developers will be deemed to have committed an offence if they begin construction before a development permission has been issued, or has been revoked or modified.

Where an offence has been adjudged to have been committed, a fine of between five and 10 per cent of the value of the land being developed will be imposed or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

“In the case of continuing offence, (the developer will be liable) to a fine not exceeding Sh5,000 for each day during which the offence continues after first conviction,” the Bill states.

Source: the star

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