(CNS): Residents in Beach Bay are worried that government is making changes to roads around their homes to facilitate a developer, who has yet to make any serious commitment to a proposed hotel project, that will block their beach access, and that the public purse is footing the bill. Residents in the coastal neighbourhood in Bodden Town recently received a letter from the NRA outlining changes that will see parts of Beach Bay Road closed and redirected, giving the owners of the land better access. However, nearby residents say it will negatively impact them.
Also concerned about who is paying and government’s failure to do its due diligence on the people behind the proposed St James Point resort, residents have told CNS that they don’t think the change should happen in favour of a developer where there are no concrete plans and against the wishes of local owners already invested for a long time. They have also questioned why public money should be used to help wealthy developers who have not yet submitted planning permission for the project.
One of the main concerns is the combined closure and redirection of parts of Beach Bay Road, which the residents believe will, contrary to the claims by the NRA letter, affect beach access. They say it’s quite clear that the change will result in the residents in the area and the wider public losing their rights of way to the coastline.
This comes just as legislators are due to debate legislation in the Legislative Assembly regarding wider beach access problems. During the last meeting, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts made a commitment to amend legislation to protect long-held rights of access to the islands’ beaches.
CNS contacted the NRA, the minister and ministry with questions about the road closure and the diversion expected to happen this year, but after almost week there has been no response from any of them. We also asked the ministry about any due diligence that may have been undertaken into the developers who are proposing the resort, but no one has responded.
The proposed development of St James Point was one of several possible private sector developments that the PPM government was depending on during this administration but which have not materialised.
Government signed an MOU regarding around $25 million worth of concessions and a partial marl road has been cleared, which was paid for by the developers, in connection with the proposed resort but little other movement has happened at the site. CNS understands that at the time of posting, no plans have been submitted to the CPA.
It is also understood that while the developer reportedly footed the bill for the marl road that will lead into the resort if it were ever to be built, this more significant road change that will impact dozens of home owners is being paid for with public cash.