WB road plaza stirs up beach access controversy

| 03/01/2018 | 62 Comments
Cayman News Service

The Grove, artist’s rendition

(CNS): A proposed new plaza on the West Bay Road that has raised considerable opposition from its neighbours may still get the green-light later this month when the Central Planning Authority considers the full application. But the planning application has stirred up an unexpected beach access controversy. The Grove is a proposed mixed-used development by 5 Points Investments, but condo owners nearby sent dozens of letters objecting to the project over a catalog of concerns, one of which was a wrongly held belief by the owners that their beach front is private. 

The proposed project is said to be valued at $20 million on  3.7 acres of land across from The Great House, Plantana Condos and the Avalon along the West Bay Road between the Governor’s Beach and Public Beach. The developers’ proposal includes 26,080 sq ft of retail space and 17,218 sq ft of restaurant space on the ground floor, with 58 one-bedroom apartments and 4 rooftop pools above.

The development was considered by the planning department early last month, and according to the recently published minutes for the relevant meeting, the CPA adjourned the hearing for the applicant to re-advertise the plans and re-notify neighbours after it emerged that the developer had not made it clear that the project will include restaurants.

But there was no indication in the minutes whether or not the CPA will be considering the numerous issues from objectors about the project, which nearby residents believe will reduce the value of their property, increase traffic congestion, and attract transient workers and low-budget tourists because of the density of the small units. Many of the wealthy condo owners on the beach side also claimed that the project would lead to the invasion of what they wrongly believe is their private beach.

The developers are already selling the project, despite not having acquired planning permission, and have zeroed in on the beach access, which sits between The Great House and the Plantana Condos across the street from the site of the proposed development and a mere fifty feet away. The access, however, is currently blocked with foliage that has been allowed to grow across the pathway, which has caused a separate controversy as the access was a requirement of the planning approval for The Great House development.

The fact that so many of the objectors believed that they have private access to this stretch of Seven Mile Beach further highlights the ongoing problems the authorities are having when it comes to preserving access to the islands’ beaches, especially along Seven Mile Beach, and the belief of many owners that ownership of the beach comes with the ownership of their condo.

In their objections condo owners claimed openly that their “privacy will be invaded with people accessing our private beach from across the street and it would be impossible to maintain proper security”.

But lawyers for the development hit back against the references of interference with their “private beach” as “the objectors do not have an exclusive right to Seven Mile Beach and given the public access points they have no reasonable cause for objection”.

Planning has not yet published any of its 2018 agendas, but it is understood that the application for The Grove will be heard in one of this month’s meetings, the first of which is expected to be on 10 January.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (62)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The beach is for everyone and no access should be blocked. Also I read somewhere that the owners of the great house believe that there will be an increase in traffic etc on west bay road. Did they object to the Kimpton being built? To me it sounds like the fancy folk at the great house are being a bit precious about having a buildI got opposite. When the grove is build I am willing to bet the people from the great house use the facilities at the grove.




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    • Not the OP says:

      They would not have had an opportunity to object to the Kimpton (too far away). Remember that the Law is written to limit the amount of people who must be notified and who can legally object.




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  2. Rodney A. Barnett says:

    Simply put: If the beach front in froont of the Governor’s home is public, why on earth would you believe any other beach would be private???




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  3. Anonymous says:

    If they buy their supplies from A certain Lumber store They will get CPA Approval




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  4. Veritas says:

    My point is why is it that Caymanian developers sell units before planning permission is granted. Seemingly they know they will get it, but this makes a nonsense of the legal process.Influence still flourishes here as it always has. Just look at all the arrangements made by the local gentleman for his plastic playground near Eden Rock.




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    • Hancock says:

      You are comparing apples with oranges. Firstly I am not aware of the promoters of the playground raising funds from the public. Please may we have further edification so none of us miss out on this ludificant investment.

      As to the West Bay development please advise us of projects where sales were not made subject to planning permission. Mr Wellon and Mr Butler can advise you further.

      By the way have you just arrived on the island?




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      • Veritas says:

        Hancock, fruit has nothing to do with it, neither has raising funds from the public, where did this come from?. Please read up on the plastic playground for your own edification.
        May I ask how long you have been on the island?, I dare say not so long as I have.
        As for the main thrust of my comments, publish your phone # and I will call you and provide the name of a prominent local developer who wanted to buy land from me to construct condos.When I told him he would not get planning permission as the only access road was too narrow, he claimed “that was not a problem as he had contacts in the Planning Dept”.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    This land is zoned Neighbourhood Commercial not LDR, so ground floor retail is part of the set program. The residential units are mostly just under 700 sq ft so although small they will attract professionals looking for a great location close to everything. Units costs are at the higher end and tenants will pay in access of CI$2500 per month. This entire section of West Bay Road and Seven Mile Beach is about to see some serious development and this specific develop will add more services and well need housing for our under served rental market. Like it or not the development in Grand will continue.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    The objections of the Great House owners effectively boil down to a relatively simple concept – “MY life would be better if we could effectively prevent or chose the type of development undertaken near to us”.

    It is rank selfishness of the highest order and ignores the benefit that development of such land (in keeping with the zoning and planning laws I might add) will have for the Island as a whole. They are entitled to their opinion of course, but have no basis to prevent a legitimate use of the land – they had to at least anticipate that it would be used / built on at SOME point in the future.

    I would also add that they had the opportunity to buy the land themselves and thus control their destiny, but voted not to!

    The job of the government and the planning authorities is to take these decisions in the interests of the Islands as whole; frankly, the private concerns of these owners and their desire to protect their enclave / beach access should be largely irrelevant.

    It’s time that they woke up and realised that they do not control the beach or the use of the Seven Mile corridor.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    A Caymanian developer with a high-end product (low-density residential, class A retail and class A apartments) up against tourist objectors, objecting for argument sake. This is the type of project CI Government supports and is an easy one for CPA to pass given the benefits to the economy, the tourist product and Neighborhood Commercial zoning.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Sensationalized news at its best. Nobody said anything about private smb.. the issue is a bunch of studio rental vacationers using their pools and private property. Ridiculous reporting and sensationalism- just why the developers want so you don’t see the bigger picture of what they are trying to build here.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    I had a overseas security guard try to move me from sitting under a tree near the high water mark of a condo complex on 7MB. I explained that as I was not using the Condo’s facilities then I was within my rights to stay put. An owner then confronted me saying that they had the beach recently surveyed and I was now sitting on private beach. This has to stop as there is an increase in condos putting ropes/signs across the beach to make it private and it is my understanding that anyone can use the beach as long as they are not using their facilities. CAN SOMEONE CONFIRM THIS!!




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    • Anonymous says:

      you are correct…even the roped off ‘private’ beaches are not truly private…all it does is give the condo or home owners that the beach is in front of the private right to place their own property upon (e..g beach chairs) and the private right to maintain it’s cleanliness…but there is no true, hard law stopping you from bringing a towel and putting it anywhere on there private beach….the issue really is why we’d want to if there is so much beach between their ‘rope’ and the current tide height…..all it will do is trigger arguments…..this is very different from the beach access arguments, which are getting muddled….some land parcels truly have private access that they have rights to gate off, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use the beach in front of them, you just have to walk further to get there, you cannot use their private access route directly to it




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      • Anonymous says:

        8:29am – I can answer this “the issue really is why we’d want to ” Because some people like to sit in the shade of a tree.
        Doh!




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    • Anonymous says:

      I hope you waited for them to call the police to remove you. It would have been interesting to find out how police would handle this matter.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Not all bare sand is public beach.




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    • Anonymous says:

      If you are sitting under a tree, you must be above the high water mark and therefore on private property.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    We made a huge mistake allowing development on the beaches. No one should have been allowed to build there, if it was suppose to be public use. I suggest that Dart will soon control all beaches on West side of island. So maybe Gov’t could buy somewhere else that hasn’t reached the extreme high price yet? I don’t know about you all but I’m not going to sit on a 10-30 ft. beach in front of a condo without amenities. How long will it be before no one uses the beach access. Driving up to a beach access dragging chairs and umbrellas barbecue grills down to a beach in front of a condo? Really? We need our own beach, please.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Every worthwhile beach on the planet is developed, even ones with only 2-3 month seasons. Cayman needs a sheltered walkway along SMB main area with cafes, restaurants to choose from, and beach kept safe and clean by guards and good policing.




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    • Anonymous says:

      We had our own Public Beach on West Bay Road but our government gave it away for a few votes, to people who opened unlicensed businesses there at the expense of all local people!

      This is the height of madness and worthlessness on part of our so called politicians.

      Why isn’t anyone up in arms about that situation?




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  11. Anonymous says:

    The project has not been approved BUT you can buy one…. another day in the Banana Republic of the Cayman Islands. I would not touch real estate here with a ten foot pole.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Reminds me of something a few years ago where the deposits held in “escrow” were already dispersed by the agents when the whole thing fell apart but they are still around selling homes




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  12. annonymous says:

    Government is not going to stop until everything we have is taken away from us. Imagine not being able to see and use the beach in most places nowadays!




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    • Anonymous says:

      You are talking about the Dart Dream. If he is not stopped that is how it will be.




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    • No one has referred to the history of the land. It was pure swamp and acquired by Roland King in 1967/68 who filled it. Later Governors Harbour evolved and developed largely on the North Sound although the Coutts Building and the one next door were also built. It was pretty obvious that eventually adjoining lands to the south such as Governors Square would be sold and developed. Thus those condo owners on the sea must have realized that similarly to the south end of the beach shopping plazas would be built. Remember in 1968 there was almost no developments on the east side of the entire West Bay Road.
      I understand their rights to object to the project but they have no right to block rights of access by allowing trees to grow or placing garbage recepticals on the land preventing beach access. The owners of The Great House need grow up,live with progress and at the same time respect the rights of the public.




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    • Anonymous says:

      you elect the Gov. A Caymanian at one time or another sold every sq. ft. of land owned by investors. and ex pats. Why not suck it up, shut up and start buying it back. Also just how does the Gov. sell private land?




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    • Anonymous says:

      6.09pm … “Imagine CAYMANIANS” not being able to see and use the beach et al……..




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  13. pseudonym says:

    Idiots, all these expats believe they own seven mile beach. They own a over priced condo not the beach, the beach is for the island and the people. No one own’s the beach




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    • Anonymous says:

      How dare you speak in this manner after you people have sold all the land off for huge profits. Get real as you can not blame foreign investors who put there hard earned dollars to work here for your problems. Should have thought about that when you were grabbing the money. Well that’s what happens when you sell your soul off.




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      • Anonymous says:

        actually your comment shows how the common man is being falsely portrayed as having sold out so should stay quiet….infact, very few have sold out…and they are easy to name….the vast majority never had it, and are the ones now being blocked as those who sold out still have their own huge pieces all over the country




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        • Anonymous says:

          Who cares as it is all about the money my friends. How can you live the “good life” without it.




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      • Anonymous says:

        What a silly comment! The issue here is that too many foreign investors do not bother to make themselves familiar with local laws and regulations and believe that Cayman is like many other countries where you can block off beach access and declare a “private” beach in front of the property. Perhaps if they would realize that a big portion of the beach is and remains crown land and therefore for everyone to use, people wouldn’t have such negative feelings towards foreign beach property owners.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    I suggest we all go use that very public beach space now…these people who think they own the beach have to be taught the hard way, the beach is for everyone. Oh, make lots of noise too.




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  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t blame them for complaining…I would to. But there only recourse would have been to buy that land for themselves. By leaving it there it is only reasonable to assume that someone would eventually develop it.

    7 Mile is only going to get busier as the density increases, which it will. Living in a complex with 50 beach chairs out front that are occupied by 1-5 people at any given time will be a thing of the past in 10 years…and rightly so.

    I don’t think it will impact the value of their homes, if anything it will increase it.




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  16. Anonymous says:

    38 privately owned commercial spaces. Not exactly a shortage of commercial on SMB now but whatever. With all separate owners, no cohesive vision of what should be located there,
    the owners of the Avalon and The Great House will have a choice between a dozen hair salons, a couple of discount liquor stores, and a host of jerk drum restaurants. Might even be able to pick your lucky number in the convenience store.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I am undecided about this project but if it goes ahead you can expect there to be businesses catering to the owners of those condos too. They’re older complexes with longer-term owners as you have no doubt seen from the objection letters. If it goes ahead I would advise them to make lemons of lemonade and use their wealth and connections to get and/or invest in businesses they want on their doorstep.




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  17. Anonymous says:

    These are the types which our Government is eager to develop Cayman for!! Let’s forget the working class and cater solely to the rich and powerful class!




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  18. Anonymous says:

    The condo owners concern about “traffic” is absurd. Traffic on that part of West Bay Road has been reduced by 90% with the new highway. When they bought their condos at Great House, Plantana etc, they had a main road in front, now they dont, and the remaining road is 25 MPH.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Very valid points – but so is the fact that, with high density, relatively affordable housing across the street as part of a mixed-use development where there is currently no development at all, traffic in all its forms will increase around their properties. I don’t think they’re complaining that they will have to drive past their properties more slowly; I think they’re complaining that the character of the area they live will change completely. Aren’t they entitled to make that complaint and have it weighed in the balance? Or must be it dismissed out of hand as rich NIMBYism?




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      • Anonymous says:

        At USD$340k plus taxes for a land-locked 458sf midget apt…maybe not as “affordable” as you’d presume = $726/sf!!!




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      • Anonymous says:

        It is low-density residential as pointed out in the CPA meeting agenda, not high




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      • Ah boy says:

        It is off the main road. If the CPA allow the traffic argument to prevent this development all other development North of the Great House including Godzilla new hotel
        and all other development will have to be refused based on traffic increase.




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  19. Anonymous says:

    the usual nonsense from the nimby crowd…




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    • anonymous says:

      Nomby. Not On My Beach Yardie




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    • satirony says:

      Mr. 1.13 pm. We’re all NIMBY’s given the right situation. We just want to protect what we have. In Cayman they like to sell you an expensive property with a sea view, then a few years later, build something twice as high so they can sell your view to someone else. Wouldn’t you at least be a NIMFY in this situation, as in, ‘not in my front yard?’ It’s human nature.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Not if you are stupid enough not to research the local laws and be aware of what is yours – and what is public property




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      • Right ya so says:

        @ satirony – you speak like this is only done in Cayman – it’s the world over matey! “In Cayman they like to sell you an expensive property with a sea view, then a few years later, build something twice as high so they can sell your view to someone else.”




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