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Cabinet Note Residential Density Policy and Zoning in Jamaica 1.

Background The need for a review of residential density zoning standards in Jamaica is a major issue. The increase in urbanization as well as population demand has placed additional stress on the allocation and uses of land. The rapid expansion of urban centres and the finite land resources bring to light the need to review existing residential density standards as an integral part of Jamaicas spatial development strategy. There is a need to increase densities especially in the urban areas to maximize the use of scarce land resources and to take advantage of economies of scale in respect of infrastructural investments such as central sewerage systems and mass transit. Historically, the pattern of Jamaicas human settlements has been largely influenced by the traditional orientation of the economy around the export of primary products of agriculture, bauxite and other products. As a result, most of the islands major urban and sub-urban centres are located along the coast, although many of them no longer function as ports. In addition major settlements in the interior have been developed primarily to function as trading and distribution centres for the surrounding countryside. In 1970 a National Settlement Strategy (NSS) was prepared to establish a spatial framework to guide socio-economic development and urbanization on a rational basis. The NSS ranked the islands urban centres into national, regional, sub-regional and district centres based predominantly on the hierarchy of amenities and services provided, economic growth potential, accessibility, size and shopping importance of these settlements. In addition the availability of suitable lands for expansion and the existence and capacity of public infrastructure such as roads and sewage facilities, were also taken into consideration in the preparation of the NSS. The NSS is an important component of the spatial development strategy and is used in the decision making process to guide the location and growth of settlements or urban development. It will also be used as a guide for decision making on the review of densities in urban areas. A paper entitled Concept Note Residential Density Zoning Jamaica was recently prepared in response to a request arising from discussions at the Land Titling Meeting of May 27, 2009 which focused on density zoning in urban centres. The paper highlights the need for density zoning and the factors which should be considered. The paper also informed the preparation of this note. 2.Criteria and Justification for Residential Density Zoning Density is a planning concept used to regulate the magnitude of development in a particular area and can be calculated using habitable rooms per hectare or a combination

of plot area ratio/lot coverage/height. The maximum allowable residential density is a function of the following factors inter alia: The means of sewage disposal/proximity to central sewage system. The provision of amenity space such as green areas/open spaces, other recreational facilities and parking to meet the requirements of the proposed development. The size and shape of the lot. The relationship to existing developments on adjoining lots. The standard of access roads serving the development. Proximity to social infrastructure, services and shopping conveniences. Proximity to public transportation routes. The physical and geological characteristics of the site (including the slope of the land and susceptibility to slope movements) Setback of structures from property boundaries. The ecological sensitivity of the area. The population trends/growth versus size of country. Social issues such as squatting and the governments response to same and family owned lands. Need to provide housing for the various social groups based on demand at each level. Availability to water supply, electricity and other utilities. Proximity to watersheds and sources of water. Need to encourage the greening of buildings by using increase density as an incentive.

These general criteria along with designations provided in the NSS are intended to assist in further rationalizing the location of concentrated human settlements across the island. Additionally, the coordinated development of planned human settlements contributes significantly to economic development of the island, as government agencies will be better able to coordinate the provision of the required social amenities and infrastructure such as roads, electricity, central sewage systems and water distribution network. The development of a density zoning strategy allows for growth and commercial development within these urban/built up areas and townships, maximizing the benefits to be derived from the agglomeration of services and infrastructure, while allowing for the preservation of environmentally sensitive areas and agricultural lands. It would maximize the use of scarce and costly urban lands, make better use of existing infrastructure and lower the cost per unit of the provision of public facilities. In this manner, the cost to central and local government to support new development is reduced and high costs for provision of infrastructure are avoided when development is concentrated in the urban core and implemented in a sequential manner instead of being dispersed haphazardly throughout the hinterland.

Data from the 2001 population census reveals a gross population density in Jamaica of 241 persons per square kilometer. This figure represents an increase from 214 persons per square kilometer in 1991. Internationally, this gross density would be considered to be low. However, in urban centres in Jamaica, the gross population density is higher than the national figure. The intended increase in residential density for developments would be focused on such areas.

3. Recreational/Amenity Spaces It should be noted that in cases where density increases are contemplated, adequate allocation must be made for the provision of open space and other community amenities to satisfy the needs of the residents and enhance the aesthetics of the communities. This may also necessitate the need for the Government to pursue planning agreements and allocate public funds to purchase land for the creation of recreational parks. 4. Density Restrictions Although in many instances the planning authorities will seek to obtain more efficient use of land by increasing densities, in some case it is necessary to restrict densities. Lower densities will be encouraged in areas impacted by the following factors, some of which are mentioned in section 2 above: Location on hillsides In areas with complex geology and steep slopes such as Jacks Hills in KSA and sections of Highgate in St. Mary, densities will continue to be restricted in an effort to minimize slope disturbance and ensure/facilitate slope stability. In areas such as Stony Hill and Red Hills in the KSA the underlying bedrock is competent. However, the terrain as well as other factors, including cost and the availability of infrastructure (such as roads, water and sewage disposal) and the impact of high density development on valuable water resources( in the absence of a central sewage system) are important factors that will be further considered in the decision to reduce densities in these areas. Currently the allowable density in hilly areas in the KMA is 50 habitable rooms per hectare and may be reduced according to local conditions. Ability to accommodate intense urban type development In areas such as Irish Town and Gordon Town in the KSA several factors including the terrain, geology, availability of social facilities and infrastructure limit the possibility of allowing higher densities. Recurring cost to government to repair and maintain the road network and other infrastructure after severe weather events reinforces the need to restrict density in such areas. Susceptibility to hazards The coastal location of many urban centres renders them susceptible to multi hazards. The community of Port Royal in KSA is a good example of an area which is subject to multi hazards but which is already developed. In such situations density

restrictions are necessary so that an increased population is not placed at risk. Appropriate measures to address the risk to the present population are critical in light of the possibility of increased susceptibility as a result of climate change. There are some locations which due to a combination of factors which may put large populations at risk, no build zones may be prescribed. A multi-agencies committee has been established to address the issue of no build zones in relation to Hope River basin. Ecological sensitivity of the area In areas where the ecosystem functions would be severely disrupted by intense human settlements, low intensity /impact development may be contemplated in suitable locations. The town of Negril for example is already settled but is situated within an ecologically sensitive area (bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Great Morass). This unique situation does not lend itself to significant increase in residential and resort densities. There are other areas that, due to there ecological sensitivity and importance are only suitable for low density residential settlements or none at all (for example Blue and John Crow Mountain and the Cockpit Country). Proximity to water resources (Water Quality Control Zones and Aquifer Protection Zones) The need to control and restrict development (in as far as development presents a pollution risk) around some existing drinking water sources (i.e. major and sensitive sources) and within selected groundwater (aquifer) recharge areas, for the protection of water quality and quantity, is well established. The Water Resources Authority is expected to continue to provide direction in this regard, through the generation of appropriate maps which spatially define these critical water protection zones and the recommended land use restrictions. Availability of services and community amenities In some locations urban type development will be considered to be premature because the area presently does not have the necessary social or infrastructural services to satisfy demand generated from high density development. This limitation is applicable to both urban and rural areas where these services are not provided at sufficient levels. Method of sewage disposal The absence of facilities to treat sewage to a tertiary level limits the possibility of permitting multi-family development in an area. This is a critical issue, as there are areas where on-site sewage treatment is the only option (as there is no central sewage plant) and tertiary level treatment is strongly recommended for the protection of water quality. However, for low income housing the on-site tertiary options are costly and methods will have to be found to address this issue. Availability of land to accommodate multi-family development The ability to undertake multi-family development is sometimes constrained by the difficulty experienced in acquiring and consolidating lands to facilitate this type of development. In some areas the following factors limit the possibilities for multifamily development: Shape and size of lots Availability of large tracts of suitable land 4

Existence of contiguous parcels of suitable and available land 5. Other factors that impact on density zoning Overlooking and overshadowing The relationship between the planned development unit (multifamily project) and adjacent uses must take into account the type of adjacent uses, building scale, density and height to ensure compatibility. One of the outgrowths of increase densities will be increase in mix uses, heights and reduced setbacks. Great sensitivity will therefore have to be exercised when a high density project is proposed adjacent to residential uses of lower density or other more low impact users. To minimize the impact of such high density developments adjacent to single family uses, the following strategies are proposed: Additional landscaping to serve as buffer area; Increased setbacks from property lines and additional setbacks on upper floors where the development is in a sensitive area; Modification of the orientation of buildings, windows and balconies.

Regeneration of blighted urban areas The regeneration of blighted areas is a planning strategy to stimulate economic and social development in inner city areas. In order to encourage the regeneration of blighted areas, for example downtown Kingston, planning authorities will generally allow higher residential densities in an effort to attract and retain population in areas with infrastructure at required capacities to accommodate the intended levels of development. In addition the authorities may see it fit to reduce onsite parking requirements in major areas such as downtown and encourage green travel such as walking,cycling,carpooling,mass transit and investment in parking garages. 6.Areas in Kingston and St. Andrew slated for increased densities Based on the recognition of the need to maximize the use of urban lands, efforts are being pursued to increase densities and housing stock and maintain the residential character of areas. An example of these efforts can be found in the present thrust to increase residential densities in suitable areas within Kingston and St. Andrew (KSA) based on the criteria listed earlier. These areas include Eastwood Park Gardens, Patrick City, Richmond Park, Vineyard Town, Cross Roads, Havendale/Meadowbrook, Seymour Lands and New Kingston amongst others. These areas were selected based on the following main factors: Central location, Access to major bus routes and arterial roads, Relatively flat well drained terrain, Ability for connection to present or planned sewer mains, Relatively larger lot sizes and potential for amalgamation.

This development focus provides for the renewal of older neighbourhoods and housing stock specifically and to stem urban sprawl. Reductions in time, money, energy and air pollution associated with longer trips are also realized from the reduction of urban sprawl. While it is recognized that some residents are not favourably disposed to higher densities (e.g. Liguanea Plains in KSA), it is imperative that densities especially on the plains be increased in order to: Further enhance sustainable development opportunities, Reduce the carbon footprint, Maximize the use of scarce urban land and protect our agricultural and more ecologically sensitive areas., Reduce the cost of repair and maintenance of roads and provision of other infrastructure, especially in the hilly areas, Decrease runoff from upper watershed areas and increase aquifer recharge Allow for increase investments and innovation in the provision of housing stock on the private and public market for rent and sale. Allow for smart growth of our towns and produce more liveable and resilient urban centres.

Cabinet is therefore being asked to note that: 1. In response to the need to inter alia, increase the housing stock, provide wider options for housing solutions, increase efficiency of use of urban lands, reduce commuting costs and protect environmentally sensitive areas, considerations will be given to rationalizing densities island-wide. 2. Consideration will be given to the construction of multi-family developments in urban centres island-wide where tertiary level central sewage treatment facilities exist or where they are to be provided by developers. This will be dependent on whether the intended proposals satisfy all the relevant planning and other criteria governing such developments. Some of the areas of Kingston and St. Andrew which increase densities will be immediately encouraged are: Eastwood Park Gardens, Patrick City, Richmond Park, Vineyard Town, Cross Roads, Havendale/Meadowbrook, Seymour Lands and New Kingston. Other areas will be included based on the criteria/factors listed above as agreed on by the Town and Country Planning Authority/National Environment and Planning Agency and other relevant central and local government agencies. 3. The National Environment and Planning Agency will support strategies to increase urban densities and also to introduce where necessary approaches to 6

encourage new design concepts that will allow for increased densities while maintaining the character of rural areas without compromising the environmental integrity, where all the necessary criteria and planning standards are satisfied. 4. The National Environment and Planning Agency, under the guidance of the Town and Country Planning Authority will be charged with ascribing the appropriate density guidelines and standards for the targeted areas, bearing in mind the existing physical, social, cultural and other constraints impacting on densities in these areas. 5. The Town and Country Planning Authority and the Office of the Prime Minister will issue policy directives/guidelines to the local planning authorities regarding increasing densities in prescribed areas and be guided by same when assessing planning/development applications. 6. Where necessary, amendments will be made to existing development plans and orders prepared by the National Environment and Planning Agency/Town and Country Planning Authority, where no reference is made to increased densities in areas identified. New plans and orders to be prepared will specifically outline areas in which higher densities will be encouraged and the relevant standards. 7. The Bureau of Standards, the Ministry of Health, the Scientific Research Council and other relevant government agencies will be requested to assist in the development of suitable and cost effective sewage treatment facilities for low income areas to facilitate higher densities. 8. .Priority projects will be identified and implemented to immediately improve and expand the central sewage systems (especially along coastal areas where the population concentrations tend to be largest) in order to protect the countrys water resources and marine environment 9. Resources will be identified where possible for the improvement and expansion of road networks, water supply and fire fighting facilities in Kingston and other targeted urban areas islandwide to facilitate increased densities

Hon. Bruce Golding Prime Minister October 11, 2010

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