Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions, and typical answers we respond with. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Do I need planning permission to construct a house?

Yes. Almost all development on Grand Cayman requires planning permission, including excavation, land clearing, advertising signs, pools, cabanas, sheds, houses, apartments, commercial buildings, and many more. Please contact the Department of Planning to see if your development requires planning permission.

I need to notify neighbours regarding a development proposal. Can the Department of Planning provide me with a list of addresses?

No. The Department of Planning can provide you with information on how many of your neighbours must be polled (i.e. 250 foot radius, neighbouring properties, etc.), but the Lands and Survey Department is the agency that can provide addresses.

Notification Distances are typically as follows, but should be verified with the Planner on Duty:

Type/size of Proposed Development Zone Notice Radius
Commercial Commercial 300 ft
Non-residential uses Residential 500 ft
Industrial Industrial 500 ft
Institutional Any 300 ft
Hotel Hotel 300 ft
Apartments (3-5 units) Residential 150 ft
Apartments (6-10 units) Residential 250 ft
Apartments (11 or more units) Residential 450 ft
Subdivision (up to 5 lots) Any 150 ft
Subdivision (6-10 lots) Any 250 ft
Subdivision (11 or more lots) Any 450 ft
I suspect my neighbour is building an illegal development. What can I do?

Please contact our enforcement staff immediately via email or by phone at 244-6501.

Is there a building code for the Cayman Islands?

Yes. There are codes for Building/Structural, Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical, Gas, Seismic and Wind.

Do commercial fit-outs require building permits?

Yes. If a fit-out constitutes a change of use, it will also require approval from the Central Planning Authority.

Do I need a building permit to construct a shed?

Yes. All structures in the Cayman Islands require a building permit, and many also require planning permission.

Do I need to have a license to operate as an electrical contractor in the Cayman Islands?

Yes. The Building Control Unit administers the Electrical Licensing program. Application forms are available on this website.

Does the Development Plan address land use and planning issues on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac?

No. The Development Plan only addresses Grand Cayman. Separate legislation is in place to govern planning issues on the Sister Islands.

Is the Development Plan the only piece of legislation relating to planning on Grand Cayman?

No. There are a number of pieces of legislation which address planning issues in the Cayman Islands. The ‘enabling’ legislation, which creates the basis for planning in the Cayman Islands, is the Development and Planning Law (2005 Revision). This law determines what the Government can regulate, powers of enforcement, and how decisions can be appealed.

The Development and Planning Regulations (2006 Revision) is the legislative version of the Development Plan. This legislation addresses permitted land uses, densities, building heights, and a range of other details. In addition to these two core pieces of legislation, there are many other key pieces of legislation, including the Building Code Regulations (2006 Revision), Tree Preservation Orders (1998), the Appeals Tribunal (Development Plan) Procedural Rules 1975, Designating Orders (2005 Revision), and the Development and Planning (Appeals) Rules (1999 Revision).

Is there a procedure to change the zoning designation on a piece of land?

Yes. There is a rezoning process which applicants can pursue. The Planning Department recommends that the timeframe for processing these applications is currently about 12 months. An overview of the rezoning process is available here.

Where do I apply for planning permission?

All applications must be submitted by hand to the Department of Planning, Government Administration Building, Elgin Avenue, George Town.

If you are applying for an application on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, you must submit the application directly to the office in Cayman Brac. However, you may pay for it at the Department of Planning on Grand Cayman before mailing it to the Cayman Brac office.

How do I apply for planning permission?

You must complete a planning application form and submit it together with the required documents and appropriate fee to the Planning Department.

Where do I get an application form?

Application forms can be collected from the Department of Planning Reception Desk on the ground floor of the Government Administration Building, or from our website, www.planning.ky.

Can I get advice from the Department of Planning?

A Planning Officer is on duty every day from 8:30am to 4:00pm. No appointment is necessary. Just drop by and ask to speak to the Planning Officer on duty.

Who can make a planning application?

Anyone can submit a planning application. The legal landowner does not have to be the applicant.

What information must be contained in a valid planning application?

A valid application must contain the following information:

  1. Site Plan (at a convenient natural scale) which must show:
    • The location of the proposed building
    • The location of existing buildings on the site and on adjacent land
    • The front, rear and side setbacks
    • The dimensions of relevant lots (for subdivisions)
    • The fronting roads giving their names and widths
    • The existing and proposed site levels
    • The water and sanitary drainage systems
    • The north point
  2. Floor plans to scale (1/8″ = 1′ or ¼” = 1′)
  3. Front, side and rear elevations to scale (1/8” = 1′ or ¼” = 1′)
  4. Every plan must have the name of the person what prepared it
  5. The site plan must be certified
  6. Land register (both sides)
  7. Land registry index map
  8. High Water Mark Survey (if required)
How long will it take to get planning permission?

If the application is for a house and the plans meet the minimum requirements set out in the Development and Planning Regulations, the application will take approximately 1 week.

For any other application which requires a 21 day notification period to nearby landowners, the application will take approximately 6 – 8 weeks

I have submitted my planning application, now what?

Your application will be logged by a Clerical Officer and then assigned to a Planning Officer to process.

If the application is for a house and meets the minimum Planning Regulations, your application will be processed “Administratively”. Meaning the Director of Planning or his designate will approve the application.

If your application requires notification and/or does not meet the minimum Planning Regulations, the Planning officer will seek comments from various relevant agencies, and then write a report to be presented to the Central Planning Authority.

How can I find out if my application meets the Planning Regulations?

The Development and Planning Law (2015 Revision) and The Development and Planning Regulations (2015 Revision) are available on our website, www.planning.ky.

What is the Central Planning Authority?

The Central Planning Authority comprises 13 members of the public who are appointed by the Government of the day. They are responsible for reviewing applications and making a decision of whether to approve, refuse, or approve with conditions. The current board members comprise the following persons:

  • Mr. A.L. Thompson – Chairman
  • Mr. Robert Selkirk Watler, Jr – Deputy Chairman
  • Mr. Fred Whittaker – Member
  • Mr. Ray Hydes – Member
  • Mr. Rex Miller – Member
  • Mr. Elson Rankin – Member
  • Mr. Dalkeith Bothwell – Member
  • Mr. Ashton Bodden – Member
  • Mrs. Sharon Roulstone – Member
  • Mr. Trent McCoy – Member
  • Mr. Joseph Coe – Member
  • Mr. Selvin Richardson – Member
  • Mr. S.T. Bodden – Member
  • Director of Planning – Executive Secretary
What if someone objects to my application?

If someone objects to your planning application, the objection letter will be sent to you to review. You and the objector(s) will be invited to appear before the Central Planning Authority to discuss the issues raised.

I received planning permission, now what?

After you receive your letter granting planning permission, you need to comply with any conditions that may have been placed on the project, and then submit an application for a permit. You have 5 years to submit an application for a permit.

Once you receive the permit, you can start construction.

Will I be notified about all developments near to me?

The Development and Planning Regulations set out the minimum notification radius for each application. The applicant is responsible for sending a notice via registered mail, to all landowners within the notification radius.

How long do I have to submit my comments?

You have 21 calendar days to submit your comments, starting from the date the notice was sent.

How do I submit my comments?

All comments must be submitted in writing to the Department of Planning. They should be addressed to the Director of Planning and either hand delivered or emailed. The preferred method is a word document sent via email. Please include your block and parcel, mailing address, phone number and email address so that staff can easily correspond with you.

Can I submit my comments anonymously?

We cannot accept anonymous comments as anyone who objects has to be invited to discuss their concerns with the Central Planning Authority.

What can I comment on?

The Central Planning Authority may only consider objections based on planning considerations and not those based on personal dislikes or grievances, non-planning issues associated with nuisance claims or legal disputes, etc.

Who will see my comments?

All comments will be forwarded to the applicant for their review. The comments will then be included in a report for the Central Planning Authority board members to review.

What access to planning information do I have?

You are entitled to view all documents submitted with the planning application at the Department of Planning, ground floor reception desk, during office hours. You are not allowed to make copies, take photographs, or make a sketch of any plans. In order to obtain copies, you must obtain permission from the applicant.

Can I comment on any planning application?

You can only comment on an application if you were notified via registered mail, or if the application was advertised in the newspaper.

What happens after I submit my comments?

The Planning Officer responsible for the application will acknowledge receipt of your comments and will advise you of the date and time to appear before the Central Planning Authority.

Will I be informed of the decision?

The decision letter will be sent to you either via mail or email.

Can I appeal against a planning decision?

Yes. The decision letter will provide details on how to appeal a decision.

How do I make a complaint regarding suspected unauthorized development?

Where you believe that an unauthorized activity may have been, is being or may about to be carried out, you should contact the Department of Planning via phone, email or in writing. You should provide details such as the address, block and parcel and photos if possible.

Can I report an unauthorized development anonymously?

Yes. You do not have to provide your name or contact details when making a complaint.

What constitutes illegal/unauthorized development?

The following are examples of unauthorized developments that may be subject to enforcement action by the planning authority

  • Erection of a structure or building which required planning permission
  • Change of use of a structure without planning permission
  • Non-compliance with conditions attached to planning permission
  • Unauthorized display of advertisements
What happens after I make a complaint?

The Enforcement Officers will investigate the complaint and if it is found that unauthorized development has been there for less than 3 years, a warning letter will be sent to the land owner. The warning letter will state that the applicant has 56 days to submit an application to the Department of Planning or cease all work and return the property to its original condition.

If the land owner fails to comply with the enforcement notice, the landowner is taken to court.