National Spatial Development Strategy for Trinidad and Tobago

National urban policy type
Partial - Territorial Plan
Policy temporality
Long-term
Trinidad y Tobago

The National Spatial Development Strategy (NSDS) provides the framework for decisions about the ways in which the national space will be used and developed over the next decade and beyond. In this context, ‘space’ includes the land, water and air, for which the people and Government of Trinidad andTobago are responsible.

(Pag. 11)

Date
Validity date

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Constitutional rights (articles)
Art.4a.

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Trinidad and Tobago there have existed and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms, namely–  (a)  the right of the individual to l...

Institutionality

Formulating Institution

The Ministry of Planning and Development 

Elaboration process

"Local, regional and international experts have been engaged and involved throughout the process. Stakeholder consultations have been held in a meaningful way and the National Planning Task Force itself, which drove this exercise over a two year period, consists of a broad range of stakeholder interests. In addition, the Town and country Planning Division were always a vital part of this important exercise. Two rounds of consultations were held in the process of developing the National Spatial Development Strategy. Firstly, a series of six (6) consultations were held where the public was engaged to formulate its vision, themes, and objectives. The findings from these consultations we captured and subsequently used to prepare the first draft of the National Spatial Development Strategy in April 2013. The draft NSDS was then made available for public comments and suggestions were again invited through the consultation process. At the core of this process is a belief system about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy to influence and shape the type of society in which they wish to live. During the period April 24 to July 10 2013, five (5) further consultations were held based on the Draft NSDS. (...) Through the consultations as well as social media, many relevant comments and insights were shared by citizens. Specific initiatives were taken to engage the business community and we received constructive feedback. It is reasonable to claim on basis of our consultative approach, the substantial contributions taken into account, and the revision which led to this final document, that as a policy document the National Spatial Development Strategy reflects not just a wide but a wise cross-section of society. Further to this, a special meeting involving Ministers and public service officials from the relevant ministries addressed the issue of general land use from a planning and sustainable development perspective" (Foreword, p.5)

Executive Body

Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, National Planning Authority, Municipal Planning Authorities, Other Ministries and Service and Infrastructure Agencies.

Panorama

Main challenge

"Urban growth has been rapid, extensive, mostly car-focussed, and characterised by urban sprawl. Many urban areas are inefficient and congested. Residential areas are often detached from places of employment and services, and designed with little thought given to access by means other than private cars. Recent shopping malls relate mainly to the main highway network, rather than particular communities, also generating extra car miles." (Figure 5: Interrelationships between key issues and solutions) (p.24)

"Integrated planning for Sustainable Development
5. Urban development has been rapid, extensive and very land-consuming in recent decades, causing loss of productive land, inefficient patterns of settlement, travel, service delivery and infrastructure provision. A more sustainable approach is required, including more efficient urban forms and better urban design." (p.29)

Urban focus

Urban strategic objectives

Policy 2: Building Strong and Resilient Communities

Policy 3: Promoting Sustainable Urban and Rural Development

When formulating SDPs and considering planning applications, Planning Authorities (working with other public agencies as necessary) should:

  • Delineate appropriate settlement boundaries to limit the outward extension of existing urban areas, consistent with the need to safeguard agricultural land, prevent urban encroachment into forests and protected natural areas and restrict urban sprawl and the coalescence of settlements; (...)
  • Reduce dependence on car travel and associated environmental impacts by encouraging development patterns that allow for walking, cycling, or public transport as alternative, safe and convenient means of access to necessary services;
  • Encourage compact development patterns in order to use land efficiently and support a range of transportation options; (...)
  • Ensure that strategic new developments include provision for adequate public open space (gardens, recreation venues, sports fields, etc. (p.35)

Policy 4: Designing and creating places for people

To ensure that principles of good design are considered fully when development proposals are being formulated and are embodied in developments that are carried out: Planning Authorities should ensure that appropriate design policies, standards, codes and guidance are set out clearly in the SDPs and related documents, and are given due weight when proposals for change and development are being considered; (...) (p.37)

Policy 5: Planning for healthy communities

(...) Aim to achieve places that promote:

  • Safe and accessible environments where crime, disorder, and the fear of crime do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion; and,
  • Safe and accessible developments, containing clear and legible pedestrian routes, and high quality public space, which encourage the active and continual use of public areas. (p.39)

Policy 6: Involving people in planning

Planning Authorities should approach participation in a way that enables communities to:

  • Be informed about emerging policies and proposals in good time;
  • Put forward ideas and suggestions and participate in developing proposals and options;
  • Be consulted on formal proposals;
  • Be involved in consultation activities in locations that are widely accessible; and,
  • Give and receive appropriate feedback. (p.40)

Policy 7: Meeting housing needs

When formulating SDPs and considering planning applications, Planning Authorities (working with the HDC and other public agencies as necessary) should:

  • Ensure that sufficient land is allocated in appropriate locations for new public and private sector housing development to meet the needs identified in the Housing Requirement Assessment
  • Promote and support improvement or replacement of existing sub-standard housing stock;
  • Facilitate conversion of unused and underused buildings in appropriate locations to provide additional housing of suitable quality; and,
  • Take appropriate action to maintain and, where necessary, improve the environmental and social conditions of existing areas where people live.

Policy 8: Planning to improve conditions for squatters

(Figure 7: NSDS Vision, Objectives and Policies p.26)

Implementation tool

Operating instruments

Local Development Plans
Regional Development Plans 
Government Development Policies 

Action against climate change

Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience

Although most policies around climate change focus on adaptation or hazard management, the document also presents some strategies on mitigation.

5.3.4 Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change 
(...) 
New development should be planned so as to avoid increased vulnerability to hazards by adopting the following systematic approach:

  • Assess on the basis of Hazard Risk Assessments;
  • Avoid development in the most vulnerable areas, where possible;
  • Control and Adapt development so that it is hazard resilient and resistant; and,
  • Mitigate against any residual hazard risk. (p. 52-53)

Policy 20: Managing Hazard Risk

Planning Authorities should work closely with the EMA, ODPM, TEMA and other relevant bodies to identify and assess potential for the occurrence of hazards and the impacts they may have within the areas for which they are responsible, taking due account of predicted effects of climate change. Such matters should be taken into consideration when allocating land for development and considering development proposals. This approach should be followed in relation to all natural hazards (including hazards induced or exacerbated by the impact of human activity on the natural environment), including: flooding; landslides; fire; storms and hurricanes; coastal hazards; and earthquakes.

Policy 21 focuses on Sustainable Transport, with considerations on energy efficient transport modes, and policy 24 deals with waste management.

At the national level, Policy 23 focuses on generating and using energy sustainably.

Focus

Main goal

By 2033 Trinidad and Tobago will be a nation where people enjoy a high quality of life within a safe, healthy, inclusive and sustainable physical, socio-economic and cultural environment. (p.15)

Strategic objectives

Table 1: NSDS Themes and Objectives

1. STRONG AND RESILIENT COMMUNITIES 

  • Building strong, diverse regions: To maintain and enhance regional diversity whilst establishing a mutually supportive hierarchy of thriving, resilient and attractive centres to provide accessible services for residents and visitors. 
  • Building Places for People: To ensure that all citizens are able to pursue their working and domestic lives in a peaceful and secure environment. 
  • Delivering the homes needed: To meet the housing needs of all sections of the population. 
  • Valuing cultural heritage: To ensure that the social, economic, spiritual and environmental value of all aspects of the nation’s diverse cultural heritage is recognised in decision-making and investment choices. 

2. SUSTAINABLE PROSPERITY 

  • Building a competitive, innovation-driven economy: To diversify and strengthen the economic base and to create and support conditions that enable all to participate and benefit. 
  • Achieving food security: To foster the conditions for a more prosperous agricultural sector and significantly reduce the national food import bill.
  • Using our natural resources sustainably: To recognise the value of natural resources (including land, air and sea) and to ensure that they are used in sustainable ways, differentiating appropriately between those that are renewable as opposed to finite. 
  • Meeting the challenges of climate change: To adapt the ways in which we live, build, travel, and communicate so as to maximise resilience to the effects and impacts of climate change and to reduce contributions to factors that are adding to it. 

3. SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE 

  • Moving towards sustainable transport: To coordinate the use and development of land and the provision of transport infrastructure so as to reduce traffic congestion and promote more efficient, less wasteful and less polluting modes of travel. 
  • Making the most of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs)
  • Generating and using energy sustainably: To reduce social and economic reliance on non-renewable energy sources and to promote and facilitate the development of more sustainable and environment-friendly alternatives. 
  • Managing waste safely and efficiently: To manage the generation, treatment and disposal of both solid and liquid waste in ways that safeguard human health and protect the environment. (p.19)

Action Strategies

Policy 1: Supporting sustainable development
Policy 2: Sustainable regional Development
Policy 3: Promoting sustainable urban and rural development

Gender

No gender focus was found in the National Urban Policy.

Monitoring and tracking

Technical Instruments

National Performance Framework (NPF): The NPF is a tool to measure and assess progress against the Government’s policy agenda as set out in the MTPF. The NPF is the first of its kind to be developed in Trinidad and Tobago and its underlying rationale is set out as follows:
“The NPF links national policies and strategies with results and outcomes that can be measured against agreed-upon targets and indicators to be achieved in the medium to long-term. The national performance measures reflect Government’s road map and the ‘key results’ expected from various interventions.” p.13