Strata Titles Bill to control urban sprawl

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BY CAROL-ANNE SULEGA

THE Strata Titles Bill 2017 that is currently before the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) for consideration is an answer to controlling urban squatters.

This was confirmed to the BLC by the sponsoring Ministry of the new Bill, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey.

According to the witnesses from the Ministry that appeared before the BLC, the principle reason for the Bill is the need to address acute shortage of affordable residential accommodation in Honiara.

The objective of the Bill is to facilitate high density development in Solomon Islands while at the same time protecting the interest of persons who buy units in such developments.

The Bill is also expected to result in additional housing in Solomon Islands who cannot afford to buy whole parcels in Honiara and this cannot be achieved but through strata titles.

The Bill is similar in nature to schemes in Vanuatu and Australia.

Their legislative schemes are designed to be simple and as flexible as possible to avoid areas that have rights to abuse by developers.

The Strata Titles Bill 2017 went to Cabinet in the form of a white paper and was approved in concept having the Government agreeing to adopt it as a priority form of economic development.

Since the concept was deliberated on by Cabinet with the assistance of DFAT and SPC, a contract was signed with the Drafter of the Bill, Ms. Christine Swift, finalised by the Attorney General’s Chambers and is therefore now before the BLC.

According to the Ministry of Lands officials, the concept had wide consultations prepared in 2015 along with the draft Bill before Cabinet consideration.

This included the Honiara City Council Executive, Association of Valuers, Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), National Provident Fund, SI Bar Association, the Law Reform Commission and commercial banks.

The Ministry told members of the BLC that there have been wide spread support on this proposed legislation in the country and there are hopes to have it also be used outside of Honiara to control urban sprawl.

In terms of implementation of the proposed legislation, the Ministry has confirmed that they have resources and ongoing expenses will be minimal and easy to handle.

They added that for a start, they do not expect a big turnout of applicants but its innovative progress will encourage construction diversity.

The Bill has achieved lots of merit and is designed for both oversea and local investors.

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