GOVERNMENT development plans are faced with numerous challenges and none more so than informal settlements.
For the Western Division, the Lautoka City Council and Ministry for Local Government have taken a proactive approach to dealing with the issue with plans to relocate squatters from Navutu to Drasa on the outskirts of the city.
Department of Town and Country Planning acting director Raijeli Taylor said municipal councils were faced with balancing development approvals and curbing squatter settlements springing up in peri-urban areas surrounding urban centres.
"The issue of civic responsibility by the public is a challenge given the level of illegal developments and activities that clearly identify the need for a stronger mechanism to curb them," she said.
"While on the one hand councils must initiate more efficient approval processes, there is an equivalent need to address illegal developments and activities as the resources of government and communities are used up in trying to vacate them."
Ms Taylor informed participants at the Lautoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bank South Pacific Business Forum that the government would address the issue in the new year.
"The anticipated changes in the law to address this is imminent and is about to be implemented come 2013," she said.
She said creating sustainable communities was not only the responsibility of the DTCP and all stakeholders needed to get involved in planning new developments or extending existing ones.
"To create sustainable communities is not only the DTCP's responsibility but one that requires collaboration from planning stage to controlling development once the plan or scheme is produced," Ms Taylor said.
"Investors and business like the community must play their part by being considerate, consulting communities on planning applications before they are made to clarify and resolve issues before the formal process starts," she said.