History of the Jamaican Institute of Planning

The Town and Country Planning Association of Jamaica (TCPAJ) was inaugurated in February 1974 with the promulgation of its constitution. The constitution established a Council, consisting of elected members, to manage the affairs of the Association in accordance with its articles. The main focus of the TCPAJ at that time was to promote the discipline of planning in Jamaica and encourage planning education and training. The first president of the Association was Calford Scott who was the moving force behind its organization.

In the early years the TCPAJ was preoccupied with establishing a professional body from scratch. The constitution of the Association recognized that there were few professional planners in the country and therefore offered three levels of membership. Persons who possessed an approved University Degree or professional qualification in planning and had a period of practical experience acceptable to the Council were made Corporate members. Individuals who had some knowledge of planning and who were members of related professions such as engineering, surveying and architecture were made Associate members. The Council also had the option of offering honorary membership to persons who had made outstanding contributions to planning or whose membership was likely to assist in promoting the objects of the Association. The TCPAJ instituted its logo, a Code of Professional Conduct and a Scale of Fees for the profession during this organizational phase.

A competition held for the design of a logo for the Association was won by the drawing office staff of the Town Planning Department. The Code of Professional Conduct was adopted by the Council of the TCPAJ at its meeting on August 27, 1980, and came into operation on October 1, 1980. The Code was designed to provide guidelines for the work of planners based on certain professional ethics. The code applied to both private and public sector planners. In the case of public sector planners, they were also governed by the codes of their respective institutions. Where a planner was a member of another profession, e.g., land surveying, he/she was expected to abide by the rules of the institute governing his/her profession. A draft scale of fees was prepared and circulated in April 1981. It was the result of several meetings and consultations with local and overseas planners and was tested for year. The feedback received during the test period was to used to finalize the scale of fees in 1982.

Membership in the TCPAJ grew rapidly during the late 1970s and the early 1980s and the Association undertook a number of activities during this period in fulfillment of its mandate. In order to disseminate knowledge and information on planning matters to the general public the Association published a bimonthly newsletter for planners and the general public interested in planning matters. In the area of training and research, the Association sponsored a series of training seminars at the then Finance & Accounts Training College for parish council staff on the development control process and prepared a report on vending in Negril for the Negril Green Island Area Local Planning Authority. The Association was also involved in the setting up of the Planning Technology course at the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) now the University of Technology (UTech). It was the view at that time that there was need for training at the sub-professional level to fill a vacuum below the professional planner. The Planning Technology course no longer exists as UTech has phased this into a four-year degree programme. In 1983, the Association hosted a sub-regional conference with the aim of promoting planning in the Caribbean. The Conference which was funded by the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) was attended by Planning Associations in the Caribbean and in those territories without Associations, the Chief Planner of the territory.

The development and expansion of the TCPAJ came to an end in the mid-1980s when membership in the organization started to decline. There were many contributing factors. First, growth in the economy had slowed considerably and many involved in the profession decided to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Considerable pressure for action was exerted by politicians on planners during the 1970s and early 1980s when the country was experiencing rapid growth. As a consequence planners placed emphasis on development control at the expense of strategic planning. This led to a situation where development control was viewed as planning, planning was seen as being negative as its main aim was to control, and planners were seen as followers not leaders.

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