By Staff Writer
Ahead of a second meeting by the Central Planning Authority scheduled for 21st July to look at development of a 10-storey hotel in central George Town, concerns have been raised with the Director of Planning. Mr Haroon Pandohie, as to the initial approval of the development.
In a letter to the Director, copied to Planning Officer Marco Whittaker, the complainant wrote in detail about their concerns over the development of a Hotel One, a 268,173 sq ft development that includes a hotel, two restaurants/bars and two pools, as detailed in a Planning Decision P21-0363 HPW INVESTMENTS LTD that was made at a CPA meeting on 23rd June and posted on 13th July 2021.
In particular, they noted, that, according to the notes they had from the CPA meeting, the Department of Environmental Health did not recommend the hotel for approval.
“This was highlighted and it is unclear why the meeting commenced in contradiction to the request,” the letter to the Director stated. “Concerns about lack of infrastructure to support the impact of development growth do not appear to have been discussed in the context of the hotel and are a key component missing from this approval process, as are population trends, capacity studies and land availability covered in the 1997 Development Plan as well as for part of the recent debate surrounding the Cruise Port Referendum.”
The letter stated that one of the reasons the development had been approved by the CPA was because it was: “in keeping with the existing commercial character of the area which includes many multi-storey commercial buildings”.
The letter writer, who was acting on behalf of the complainant, Ms. Catherine Frazier, and supported by Amplify Cayman, gave a detailed response to this assertion, stating: “Excluding South Church Street, there are as many as 30 small modest single storey dwellings spread out over approx. 100 acres around the proposed site area with just one modern office block (Citrus Grove). The remaining commercial buildings on Goring Avenue are either car parks, vacant lots or small commercial buildings that complement the historic architecture preserved in the area.”
The writer also complained to Mr Pandohie that while the Development and Planning Regulations were recently amended to allow buildings with a height of 10 storeys/130’ in the area where the development has been proposed, the zoning in the area was only approved in February of this year and with little consultation and without an overall area plan.
They went on to say that the CPA had determined that there was no historic overlay in George Town therefore the provisions of Regulation 16 of the Development and Planning Regulation (2021 Revision) did not apply. To this point, the writer outlined examples of the historical and cultural significance of the location, noting it was home to one of the earliest settlements in George Town, dating back to the late 1790s. A list of historic homes and sites documented on the National Heritage Register were recommended by Ms. Frazier to the CPA for review at the last meeting but no consultation was undertaken with Ms. Frazier nor the Cayman Islands National Trust by either the applicant or the CPA to review the cultural heritage of George Town and specifically the district in and around Goring Ave which to their knowledge was not part of the George Town Revitalisation Plan.
“My cousin has no objection to development on the said property, but it should not be more than 5-7 stories and should be designed in such a way that it complements the local architecture and cultural heritage of George Town. To deviate would be destructful,” they wrote.
“This hotel is not in character with the local architectural heritage or Caribbean design, it does not celebrate the Island’s rich cultural heritage (as set out in the National Tourism Plan) and it does not align with the seafaring heritage theme adopted by the George Town Revitalisation Plan,” they said.
To ensure transparency of the 23rd June decision, and the subsequent concerns, Amplify Cayman sent the letter to the Governor Martyn Roper, the Premier Wayne Panton, and other members of the parliament, as well as the media.
Amplify Cayman stated: “We support the outpouring of concern. We ask that as the proposal is brought again before the Central Planning Authority scheduled for July 21st that representatives take all the issues into consideration and provide clarity for the community and the wider public.”