They call it business sense. They do not realise that at times it is also environmental nonsense.
On MEPA’s website there is a link named Businessense. More efficiency. Less bureaucracy.
Among the measures which are being labelled as being ones which make business sense the reduction of development permit fees tops the list.
Now there are instances where it makes sense to reduce and at times even eliminate completely the payment of development permit fees. Among the examples which come to mind are restoration works in Urban Conservation Areas and Scheduled properties.
The reason for such reduction/elimination of fees is the need to encourage business to ensure that properties worth preserving are in fact restored and utilised. It is a way to channel investment in the preservation of our heritage by ensuring that our past has a future.
A blanket reduction of development permit fees is however environmental nonsense. The aim of development permit fees is not just to recover the costs incurred in the processing of planning applications. Development permit fees also serve another purpose: to encourage or discourage building activity.
In the present circumstances, that is with over 72,000 vacant properties (including those used partially for seasonal accommodation) there is no need to encourage building activity.
The reduction of development permit fees by MEPA thus makes neither business nor environmental sense. It is rather classified as utter nonsense.