Functions of the Agency
The Planning and Urban Management Agency
Welcome to the Planning and Urban Management Agency (the Agency) where our vision is to “Safeguard Samoa’s future and existing natural and physical environment” and congratulations on achieving this new step in your working career. The Agency is one of eight (8) divisions within the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI) and our mission statement is “To plan and manage developments that provide better development outcomes for green growth”.
Our working standards ensure that these statements are upheld through achievement of set goals and objectives. The Agency aims to improve the quality of urban and rural life through effective planning and urban management.
With the establishment of the Agency and the endorsement of the Planning and Urban Management Act (the Act) in 2004, the Agency has a legal obligation to ensure better planning for different forms of development throughout Samoa. The main aim of the Act is to ‘implement a framework for planning the use, development, management and protection of land in Samoa in the present and long-term interest of all Samoans and for related purposes.
The Act enables Government in providing environmental protection, environmental plan and development control. The Act focuses on the protection of matters of environmental significance. PUMA’s role is to help progress appropriate and sustainable developments in both urban and rural areas. This ultimately leads to safe and healthy communities; sustainable use of natural resources; economic growth; and equitable access to transport, infrastructure, recreational facilities, and jobs.
Briefly, the Agency was established in 2002, with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through Technical Assistance (TA) No. 3566-SAM, Capacity Building for Urban Planning and Management (2001). This TA was implemented following several unsuccessful attempts to tackle urban planning and management in Samoa, including past failures to find acceptable solutions to urban infrastructure problems such as drainage and sanitation.
The TA was designed as a capacity building and implementation activity to address urban infrastructure problems such as sewage and drainage, whilst simultaneously developing a policy and planning framework that enabled coordination of urban and rural development to take place in Samoa.
A timeline of all the major events that have occurred within the Agency upon its establishment and previous unsuccessful attempts are outlined in Figure 1.
The Legislative mandates under the Act provide the basis for the functions of the Agency.
The key functions of the Agency include:
- Processing and granting of Development Consent Applications for any form of development as outlined in the Act.
- Offer assistance for Public Complaints on amenity issues as outlined under Section 63 of the Act.
- Devising policies and guidelines to govern developments and better planning within the country; and
- Development of Sustainable Management Plans at a national, regional, district, village, or site-specific level.
- Offer development advice to public and private stakeholders
Environmental Policy Statement
In declaration of the Agency’s determination to protect the environment and the resources therein, an Environmental Policy Statement was put in place for the Agency and endorsed on the 2nd of July 2007. This statement is as follows:
“The Planning and Urban Management Agency is dedicated to the protection of the environment and promoting sustainable use and management of natural resources and physical resources.
To meet this commitment, the Agency will advance the Planning and Urban Management Act 2004 and relevant legislations, regulations, policies, codes of environmental practice, operating and administrative procedures and take all practicable steps by:
- Ensuring all employees are committed to the protection of the environment and consultation is sought from them on environmental issues.
- Improving the efficiency, quality, consistency of decisions we make, the advice we give and the actions we take.
- Providing effective customer service, teamwork, improved efficiency in performance and use of resources.
- Ensuring that all practices meet all applicable environmental legislations, regulations and other relevant requirements.
- Communicating our environmental policy to the public and employees and promoting environmental awareness among them.
- Promoting recycling and maintain cleanliness in our working environment.”
The Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA) is a division of the Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI) It is governed by the Planning and Urban Management Board (the Board) and the Division Head (ACEO PUMA), and is staffed by appointed officers in four sections: Strategic Planning, Sustainable Development ,Urban Management and Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Sections (see figure below). PUMA operates under the Planning and Urban Management Act 2004 (the Act), which regulates the procedures for assessment of developments, strategic planning, and enforcement measures.
The Planning and Urban Management Board
The Board is chaired by the Minister of MWTI and has 8 members (5 community representatives and 4 government representatives) and is responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act. Board meetings are conducted monthly and members are tasked with assessing development consent applications for significant proposed developments, as well as approving planning policies and guidelines.
In accordance with Section 6 (2) of the Act, “An Assistant Chief Executive Officer, appointed from time to time in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Act 1977, shall be the administrative head of the Agency.”
This Section comprises of the administrative head and all Casual workers of the Agency.
Strategic Planning Section
The Strategic Planning (SP) Section is the spearhead of the Agency in policy and guideline development, as these would assist the Agency with its duties and responsibilities. The work of SP addresses the following:
- Policy Development
The first unit under SP is the Policy Development subsection and their main role is to develop and review of policies, guidelines, codes, regulations and other planning provisions to support the Act. These policies and guidelines are the backbone of the Agency’s abilities to administer the various parts of the Act. These also provide solidarity for the lawful interventions made by the Agency.
- Plan Development
The second unit looks into the planning side of things with the development of Sustainable Management Plans (SMP) and creating plans and designs for the sustainable utilization of land resources, including town planning, zoning and assist coordination of key infrastructure and land development programmes & projects at the national, regional, district, village and site-specific levels.
SP section also holds the role of being Secretariat to the PUM Board, where they are responsible for compiling all the reports that require PUM Board decision and board meeting logistics.
Other general functions and responsibilities under SP include:
- Preparing and conducting internal trainings and Capacity Building initiatives.
- implementing public awareness Programs.
- project management support
- procedure setting improvement
- Knowledge Management Centre
SP staff consists of 1 Principal officer, 2 Senior Officers, and 3 Planning Officers.
Sustainable Development Section
The Sustainable Development (SD) Section’s main functions include:
- Assessing Development Consent Applications
Development Consent Applications submitted to the Agency are assessed based on the nature of the proposed development and its possible environmental impacts. Through the Development Consent Application Process, the SD Section is able to monitor the environmental, social and economic impacts of each development on its surrounding environment.
- Review Environmental Assessment Reports
EIA is a document required when a developer proposes to carry out an activity that is likely to generate adverse environmental impacts to existing and surrounding environments. The EIA process is an information gathering exercise carried out by the developer or applicant for development consent which enables the Agency to understand the environmental impacts of a development and consultations involved before deciding whether or not should go ahead.
The environmental assessment is a holistic process which looks at the benefits of a proposal and tries to enhance the positive outcomes and reduce the negative aspects through mitigation.
The Agency reviews and assesses the EIA. It must ensure that the EIA is in accordance with the PUM (EIA) Regulations 2007. The review of the EIA report is then submitted to the Board for a decision.
The review process is internally driven and may require you as an employee to be involved in the review process.
You can refer to the Planning and Urban Management (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007 in publications for further detail on the two types of EIAs. This includes a Preliminary Environmental Assessment Report (PEAR) and a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Report (CEAR).
SD Staff consists of 1 Principal Officer, 3 Senior Officers, 2 Sustainable Development Officers, 1 Inspection Officer, 1 Community Officer.
The Urban Management (UM) Section delivers complaint resolution services regarding public amenity (nuisance) provisions under the Act. Section 63 of the Act identifies the following issues as affecting the amenity of an area.
- Excessive noise
- Excessive dust
- Visually offensive signage, material or structure
- Poor airspace, lighting or ventilation
- Excessive traffic generation
- Smell, fumes, vapours
- Waste materials including bulk material, used goods and property
- Wastewater, sewage and drainage
- Stray and domestic animals
This Section is charged with:
- administering urban management services and manage public complaints.
- Section 63 of the Act to protect the amenity of an area or place; and
UM Section consists of 1 Principal Officer, 1 Senior Officer, and 2 Urban Management Officers.
Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement
The SD Section is responsible for enforcing the planning law and ensuring compliance of developments to the development consenting requirements and also compliance of developments to the conditions provided within the approved Development Consents. This includes monitoring development consents granted by both the Board and the Agency for compliance with the consent conditions. Non-compliance cases will be charged under the Act.
CME Section comprises of 1 principal,1 senior and 2 officers.
Project Teams attached to PUMA
Waterfront Project Management Unit
The Apia Waterfront Development Project (AWD Project) is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) through the Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA) and the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA). It was endorsed by Cabinet in 2014 and established with financial and technical support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZMFAT).
The primary focus of the AWD Project was to develop a strategic Waterfront Plan outlining an agreed Vision for the development and use of the Apia Waterfront. In December 2016 the Government of Samoa launched the Waterfront Plan and is now undertaking a number of projects as part of implementing the Waterfront Plan.
The Government of Samoa has received further support from NZMFAT to assist with the implementation of the Waterfront Plan. A Grant Funding Agreement (GFA) of NZ$3.4 million for Construction of Apia Waterfront Early Development Projects was signed between the Ministry of Finance as the Executive Agency on behalf of the Government of Samoa and NZMFAT on 23 June 2017 with a complete date of 30 September 2019. The Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI) has been identified as the Implementing Agency (IA) for the project whilst the AWD Project Management Unit (PMU) under MNRE is responsible for the overall coordination of waterfront development project. The positions within this PMU were established by project Funds with the intention of being absorbed within the PUMA Structure.
When PUMA moved to MWTI in 2019, the AWD Project Management Unit remained with PUMA but now under the umbrella of MWTI.
In 2018, a grant funding by the China Aid was signed by the Government of Samoa and the Government of China, to bring to life one of the concepts within the Waterfront Plan which was the redevelopment of the area behind the FMFMII building, to a recreational and multipurpose park for the people of Samoa. The Park design and construction was fully funded by the Government of China and was a collaboration between the AWD PMU and the Government of China team to ensure the themes and principles of the Waterfront Plan were incorporated into the final look and layout of the park, named to commemorate this partnership. – “Friendship Park”.
The AWD project consists of 1 Project Coordinator
Street Addressing Section
The Street Addressing section was established in April 2021 following a Cabinet Directive to establish a team to conduct the exercise of developing a street addressing system for Samoa. The street naming function is retained in MNRE through their Geographic Naming Board and the SAS is responsible to manage the Street Addressing Project to assign the street numbers and then create the street address database to official record and manage the full addresses of all properties in Samoa.
SA Section consists of 1 Principal Officer and 1 Street Addressing Officer
Functions of the Agency
The Planning and Urban Management Agency
Why do we need planning?
Samoa needs strategic planning and development controls to balance demands for economic growth and investment with the need to protect the environment. Without proper planning, some of the following problems can exist in our country:
- increasing environmental issues (such as pollution, deforestation and erosion);
- flooding and poor drainage;
- incompatible land uses causing issues to neighboring land;
- traffic congestion; and
- increasing pressures on service infrastructure.