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The Local Planning Authorities are those entities at the local government level, which are responsible for ensuring that development within the parish occurs in an efficient, orderly and sustainable manner. They include the fourteen (14) Municipal Corporations (MCs) which include the thirteen (13) Parish MCs and the Portmore MC.  

In keeping with the Town & Country Planning Act, all applications for Planning Approvals must be submitted to and approved by these Municipal Corporations (MCs) before any work or construction can commence.  While applications may be referred to Town & Country Planning Authority (TCPA) for a decision or to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for recommendations: the approving entities are: i) the TCPA and ii) the MCs.

Planning Applications are concerned with ensuring that the public health, safety and the environment are not threatened in any way.   The types of Planning Applications usually submitted are:
•    Detailed planning (Included with Application for Building Approval)
•    Outline planning
•    Change of Use 
•    Retention of Structure
•    Continuance of use
•    Determination

It should be noted that, the planning approval process is a consultative one. The assessment of planning and development applications starts at the Municipal Corporations, and from there applications are sent on to the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA) for review and comments, along with several other reviewing agencies, including the National Works Agency, the Water Resources Authority and the Ministry of Health.

See the business process guidelines below for more information about how to “Secure Planning Approval”

How do you secure Secure Approvals in St. Catherine?

The Process – St. Catherine MC
Process Quick Tips

Under the Building Act, permission is required for any of the following:

· Construction/erection of building

· Demolition of building

· Additions/alterations and external repairs

· Temporary building and farm house

· Change in use of building from one use class to another - e.g., from residential to commercial.

· External modifications

A preliminary consultation at the Development Assistance Centre (DAC), located at NEPA, is strongly recommended.  The DAC is a knowledge-based service unit that supports the development approval process in Jamaica.  When used as the first stop in the planning/development process - it provides relevant information to investors/developers, in order to assist them to: i) determine feasibility of the project, and ii) to prepare and make a complete and acceptable planning/development application.  For more information contact the DAC.

In addition, prior to submitting for Planning Approvals, the Municipal Corporation offers a walk-in “Pre-Check” service.  This allows you to bring in one (1) set of your drawings/plans for review and comments prior to your full submission.  They will also guide you on how to submit your subsequent detailed application

The location of your development (including the property’s geographical and topological characteristics) will determine which of the Reviewing Agencies your application will be circulated to for their comments as a part of this process.

​For Planning/Building/Subdivision applications, the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation requires that submissions be made to the Fire Department prior to applying. This is not a requirement of the other Municipal Corporations.

Your Building Permission may be granted (with extensions) for up to a period of (2) years after approval has been issued. You must commence construction within six (6) months of the issuance of the approval or it shall lapse.  If not, you will have to take the approved plans back to your Local Planning Authority and apply for an extension of time and have them “Revalidated”.

The revalidation fees are as follows:

- JMD$1500 (residential)

- JMD$10000 (commercial)

If the time has expired you will need to “Re-apply” by resubmitting your application and all documents, as well as, the full fees must be repaid.

Anyone who is found to be building without a permit may be issued a Stop Notice and an Enforcement Notice requesting “Immediate Cessation of Works” until the plans are submitted, approved and a permit is issued.

Once building has started, you will need to contact the appropriate governmental departments to carry out the relevant inspections during the course of the construction works.  A copy of the approved plans and permits must also be kept on site at all times.

If an applicant is aggrieved by the decision or the conditions of approval handed down by the Local Planning Authority, they can appeal to the Minister with portfolio responsibility for Local Government within twenty-eight (28) days of receipt of the letter indicating the Authority’s decision.

For more information on this process visit the St. Catherine MC's website.​​