01 January, 2009


New Apartments Approved by Planning During 2008. Someone thought I would be interested in seeing the published lists of the planning applications approved by the Land Development Control Committee for January-August 2008. That is only two-thirds of the year, not the whole year. The Committee has not published the lists for the remaining months of the year 2008. Why might the lists be of interest, I enquired. The reply was: because they indicate the volume of persons who intended, during the first part of 2008, to invest in building rental apartments. These were the brave souls taking up the challenge to invest in Anguilla’s construction boom. This boom has lasted all of this decade. Government ministers went on radio and in the House of Assembly to encourage this investment in rental apartments. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Some of the applicants may never have gone ahead with their project. They may have applied for planning permission, got permission, and, for one reason or the other, not proceeded with the construction of their apartments. Some of the approved apartments may not have been intended for rental: they may be additions to private homes intended for friends and family to occupy while visiting. The vast majority, we can be sure, were intended to be rental apartments.

I have counted the names on the lists. I include those who were deferred or refused. There are good reasons for this. As we all know, when Planning does not immediately approve your application, the law permits the applicant to appeal to the Ministers. They, if they are favourably inclined to you, which they can be expected usually to be if you have a vote, may overturn the decision of Planning.

I make it 102 separate applications to construct apartments. That is a lot of people investing in rental apartments. That is 100 out of a total of only about 4,000 adults in our population. And these relate only to the first eight months of 2008. There may be another 50 by the end of the year, unless new applications have begun to dry up. And, who knows how many were approved in the preceeding years?

The list shows the large number of persons who have probably gone to their bank and borrowed the huge amounts of US dollars needed to build and furnish rental apartment buildings. This might have seemed at the time to be good business for the banks. But certainly, during the economic depression that is now upon us, it will not have been such a good idea for some of those of us who had to do the borrowing.

I am sure you remember that just a few months ago people were desperate for a place to live. People were advertising their need for an apartment to rent. Since then, major hotel construction projects have gone on hold due to lack of financing. There will be no more highly-paid workers to occupy new apartments coming on stream. This week there are 7 ads in the paper for residential rentals. Last week there were 8. Rental income for existing apartments will be drying up for the next year or two.

And, the owners of “Flavors Restaurant’ just converted it to flats. Bad timing . . .

If you drive around the island, and look off the main road, it is unbelievable the number of apartments you see. Many, many of them are sitting vacant.

Financial woe lies ahead for some of us. I hope and expect that things will work out in the long run. Once the banks are thoughtful, and do not act too hastily when some of these apartment loans run into arrears.

It is, of course, an outrage that we are not told about these applications in time for us to comment on them if we wish to do so, and that it takes until December for us to learn what the LDCC did in August on our behalf.

1 comment:

  1. ...A classic case of government regulation causing malinvestment. Bailout Nation comes to Anguilla in the guise of a government-induced rental glut.

    If there were no "planning", there would *already* be a competitive rental market with enough rental units at a range of reasonable prices. Property owners' insurance and tort / common law would handle any issues supposedly remedied by "planning".

    "Policy" is not only the antithesis of freedom, it's ultimately the antithesis of prosperity.

    "Prices aren't just made up." --Walter E. Williams


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