Turks and Caicos Crown Land Controversy May Ease

Gemma Handy (Turks and Caicos Weekly News) writes that Crown land in Turks and Caicos may finally be protected by new land policy.

Wanton distribution of the country’s precious Crown land – long a hotbed of controversy – looks set to be banished to the history books. TCI took another crucial step towards completion of election milestones with the publication of a new Crown land policy on Wednesday.

The 23-page document replaces its 2005 counterpart which paved the way for lavish dispersal of the islands’ sparse resources at peppercorn prices, depriving subsequent generations of their birthright. The new no-nonsense script restricts future parcels of land to those who have never received one before. [. . .] All local law firms were notified on Wednesday of the impending changes to be brought into effect next year following the drafting and approval of an ordinance.

The revised policy gives emphasis to five key areas – transparency, safeguarding Crown land and protected areas, priorities for Crown land use, eligibility criteria, and transition to the new system.

More than three-quarters of all remaining usable land in the islands is now in private hands.

That means Belongers will have to compete for plots from government or access them from the private market. The resumption of allocations for residential use will commence within weeks. In place of CPLs, recipients will be given a long leasehold or freehold title instead.

Commercial developers applying for Crown land will have to show that their project is of benefit to the TCI, and that the private land market is unable to fulfill their requirements. They must also demonstrate a viable and detailed business case and the size of the parcel must correspond to the planned scheme. These measures will “weed out speculative attempts to alienate further Crown land” outside the country’s long-term interests, the report states.

To read the policy in full, see http://turksandcaicosislands.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/2011/sept/crown-land-policy.pdf

For full article, see http://tcweeklynews.com/crown-land-milestone-hit-p2488-1.htm

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