The Early Years

Development Planning in the Cayman Islands has its origins in the passing of the Development and Planning Law in 1971. This law established the Central Planning Authority (CPA) and charged that authority with responsibility for preparing a Plan and for administering its provisions once it was approved. The Plan was required to indicate how land in the Cayman Islands is used; to define the sites of roads, buildings and open spaces; and to allocated areas of land for specific uses.

Development Plan Review in the 1990’s

In the early 1990’s it was acknowledged that a new Development Plan was required to help control the rapid growth that was taking place in Grand Cayman at the time. The review of the 1977 Plan therefore commenced in 1991. In order to gain greater public involvement in the review process a Development Plan Review Committee was established, along with committees for each of the 5 districts in Grand Cayman. Between May 1991 and December 1993, a number of consultation exercises took place, such as public meetings in each of the districts, the circulation of a public questionnaire, and discussions with utility providers and Government Departments.

In December 1994 a Plan was put on public display for 3 months. A total of 313 objections and representations were received during this period, which were later heard in full during a series of Tribunal hearings which took place from January to July 1996. After careful consideration of the Tribunal reports the Development Plan was prepared in 1997.

The 1997 Plan incorporates some of the guiding principles of the 1977 Plan and maintains the approach of providing practical guidelines which are to be applied with flexibility and common sense. The 1997 Plan has the same general objectives of its predecessor although also seeks to protect areas of environmental significance and encourage the preservation of architectural and historical importance. A major component of the Development Plan is the Zoning Map which dictates the types of structures that can be placed in certain areas of the island. The zones and overlays correspond to text laid out in both the Plan and the Development and Planning Regulations that deal with issues such as lot size, setback distances, building heights and site coverage.

Development Plan Review in the 2000’s

The 1997 Plan is still the current plan for guiding physical development in Grand Cayman, although there have been a number of more recent attempts to update it.

In 2001 the CPA commenced the review of the 1997 Plan. Volunteer District Subcommittees were established which undertook visioning exercises for each district. Each subcommittee produced a ‘Vision Statement’ setting out how local residents would like their district to be developed in the future. The Plan review process also recognized the need for more detailed guidance for the districts, in the form of Area Plans. In order to steer the Plan review, process a Development Plan Review Committee (DPRC) was formed. The DPRC consisted of representatives from Government departments, statutory authorities and the private sector. Following a Development Plan Tribunal in 2003, the CPA prepared final amendments for the preparation of a Development Plan 2004, but these were never adopted.

A review of the 1997 Plan was also proposed in 2008 when a Strategic Plan was prepared, outlining goals and objectives for the use and development of land in Grand Cayman. It was acknowledged that previous Development Plans contained broad statements whereas this review would set out both strategic goals as well as specific implementation strategies. The goal statements within the 2008 Planning Statement were derived from the previous public outreach exercises along with the National Strategic Plan; ‘Vision 2008’.

Recent Approaches to Plan Review

In 2018, the then Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure and Department of Planning (“DoP) commenced the ‘Plan Cayman’ exercise to develop a holistic National Planning Framework (“NPF”) for all three Cayman Islands. Consultation on the draft NPF commenced in November 2018 and was extended to February 2019 to allow additional time for feedback. Over 2,000 comments were submitted, from 356 responses, and these have all been considered in full and amendments to the NPF document have been proposed, where necessary.

In September 2019 the Central Planning Authority (“CPA”) approved the final draft NPF document for transmission to the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing & Infrastructure (“MPAHI”) for adoption. In August 2022, the current CPA reviewed the draft NPF and forwarded same to the Ministry of Planning in September 2022. The final draft NPF published on the plancayman.ky website in February 2023.

In August 2023, the CPA was presented with a proposed Project Delivery Plan, prepared by the MSCR and shared for comment with MPAHITD, and DoP. The cornerstones of this proposed plan, include:

  1. the CPA having assistance in the form of a joint project team consisting of representatives from MPAHITD, DOP and MSCR
  2. The plan proposes to use the final NPF to inform three components that will collectively constitute the updated Development Plan. These components are:

(i) Planning Statement

(ii) Area Plans

(iii) Zoning Map & Regulations