Beginning Tuesday 1st September, 2020, DevelopTT no longer accepted paper based planning permission applications for T1: Port of Spain and Environs and T5: County Caroni Region. All permission applications were received electronically via the DevelopTT portal. According to one applicant, “DevelopTT’s online Automated Construction Permitting System is definitely a step in the right direction for Trinidad & Tobago.”
“The true testament to the process is the fact that I was able to receive the planning permission within 60 days of my submission, thereby allowing me to bring forward my project timelines at a significant cost savings to my company.” – Clifton Balkaran, DevelopTT Applicant.
After completing a comprehensive customer delivery survey, it was conveyed that an improved service delivery mechanism was needed for Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) of the Ministry of Planning and Development. These findings led to the umbrella project known as ‘Transformation’ comprised of three (3) major projects: Service Delivery, Digitization and Automation. These three projects are intricately linked so as to provide a more transparent, accountable, citizen-centric performance which delivers eﬀective, eﬃcient and equitable service.
Objectives of DevelopTT were to enhance the level of service and responsiveness to applicants; standardise forms and requirements across agencies; increase accountability and transparency to staff and applicants; optimize workflows and increase procedural efficiency. The system also increased staff productivity; reduced customer complaints and decreased approval time for issuing permits. The DevelopTT System is funded by the Single Electronic Window (SEW) and is expected to increase Trinidad &Tobago’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking Index.
In accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act, a building permit approval is expected to be issued within 90 days of application. However, with the new DevelopTT digital submission the time has decreased significantly. Clifton Balkaran, a DevelopTT user who had an online submission in Cocorite (T1 Region) stated, “The true testament to the process is the fact that I was able to receive the planning permission within 60 days of my submission, thereby allowing me to bring forward my project timelines at a significant cost savings to my company.” Likewise, Marissa Edwards, also a T1 Region applicant, indicated the TCPD’s area of approval was completed within 35 days. Edwards was able to track her approval status on her personal secure dashboard during the process and was alerted that the decisions of other approving authorities was still outstanding and as such she is awaiting full approval.
For professional bodies who are also users of the system, the improved service delivery has not only increased efficiency, but has also impacted on the financial outcomes for the companies. Gary Turton, Director, ACLA Architecture, stated “If time is money, wasted time is wasted money, so I see increased efficiency in this process as a positive step in the improvement of the country’s overall competitive strength. This specific strategy with the DevelopTT online format, so far has shown considerable improvement in TCPD’s response time, the ability for me to monitor the status of pending applications, and the overall speed of obtaining approvals.”
Turton continued: “As architects, we have been looking forward to any initiative that reduces the normally long process of applying for planning approval as this can negatively impact the schedule of our clients who often need to move quickly to take advantage of market opportunities.” These statements received from service users positively indicates that DevelopTT is proving to be meeting its objectives.
To further expedite approvals, the DevelopTT team reminds applicants to optimize DevelopTT user experience by:
- Addressing queries to your applications as early as possible. Recommended timeframe is within the first 2 weeks of applying;
- Look at the recommendations posted to ensure you have uploaded your application accurately;
- Check your email frequently to ensure you don’t miss any correspondence from the DevelopTT team with respect to your application;
- Add the DevelopTT email as a trusted source to ensure DevelopTT emails are sent to applicant inbox;
- Log on to the DevelopTT portal regularly to check the status of application.
The Ministry of Planning and Development in partnership with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Enterprise Development implores the public to keep abreast of all expansions of DevelopTT. To obtain firsthand information, send the DevelopTT Team an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with a request to be added to the mailing list and receive valuable information on the expansion of the digital areas and system updates. DevelopTT is transforming the construction permitting process in Trinidad and Tobago.