Planning Tribunal sends Balboa Beach back to CPA

| 11/01/2021 | 38 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The long-running dispute between neighbouring landowners on the George Town waterfront over the Balboa Beach development took an interesting turn last week when the Planning Appeals Tribunal found that the Central Planning Authority erred when it granted permission for the project “devoid of the requisite setback lines required”, as set out in the regulations.

However, despite this finding that the development is too close to the ocean, the project is a fait accompli and it is not clear how the issue will be rectified.

Following a long, complex and controversial planning history on this waterfront tourism project, which has seen the developer make numerous amended and after-the-fact planning applications, and get them granted, the most recent finding creates a new conundrum for the CPA.

“Plainly, the site plan submitted is devoid of the requisite setback lines required by Regulation 6(4). The Regulation expressly states that that the site plan must show the front, rear and side setbacks. It is for these reason that we deem the First Respondent’s departure from this requirement to be an error in law. We do not accept that there was any justifiable basis for the
deviation of regulatory requirement prescribed by 6(4),” the tribunal wrote in its recent decision, which was released Friday.

The appeal had been brought by the neighbouring landowners, Shireoak Ltd and Chris Johnson, who has long complained about the project, which he says has had a detrimental impact on the land he owns and is trying to preserve in its natural state.

“I find it incomprehensible that the Central Planning Authority could approve the application for the Thompson building when the original application was refused on January 20, 2015,” Johnson told CNS.

See relevant CPA minutes here.

He explained that it had been refused in the first place because the building did not comply with minimum required setbacks from the high watermark. In addition, it did not comply with the required side and road setbacks and the site could not accommodate the then proposed project without significant setback variances.

“The decision of the Appeals Tribunal is welcome in the light of setbacks generally, with some variances leading to the loss of much of Seven Mile Beach,” Johnson said, noting the concerns that have arisen recently about the continued waiving of setbacks on many other projects, which experts believe is contributing to the erosion of Grand Cayman’s famous beach.

At Balboa Beach, the recent storm damage has caused further erosion of the ironshore. ‘This has led to the building breaching the setback requirement even further,” Johnson told CNS. “In my opinion the building should be torn down and the land put back in its original condition as best possible. The building is a blot on the Cayman landscape,” he said, adding that this is not a private beach, as claimed by the landowners, as “we all know such beaches do not exist in the Cayman Islands”.

This appeal was the latest in a saga stretching back almost six years but related to the CPA’s decision nearly four years ago in March 2017, when the authority retroactively granted planning permission for a commercial building with restroom facilities and a 144 square foot cabana. Given the tribunal’s findings, the matter has now been sent back to the CPA, but so far no date has been set for that hearing.

See PAT decision in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is the CPA corrupt or just incompetent?

  2. Say it like it is says:

    Surely if our beloved Fort in GT could be flattened with a bulldozer, we can do the same with Balboa Beach where there is legal backing to do it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please let us know who signed off on this decision so we can congratulate them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    They appeared to be doing even more construction on the ironshore just last week…

    • Anonymous says:

      What was he doing. CPA enforcement are useless. On numerous occasions Thompson did what he liked and then applied for permission retrospectively . These are also under appeal.
      Mr Chris keep up the good work.

  5. Anonymous says:

    No worries, Absurdistan magic can make the concrete poured in the ironshore disappear and fix the erosion too. Smh.

    Glad money immunity is being challenged. They don’t want to share anyway.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Tear it down! Any common folk doing this would have had to demolish it long ago…but perhaps the head of the CPA and Kel are old buddies?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Of of thirteen people sitting on the Board, and not one of them caught on to this mishap. Sounds like we need to get rid of the “Thirteen Ghost”

  8. Anonymous says:

    I need work for my bulldozer, best rates on Island.

    Use the Rod of Correction or spoil the child!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thumbs up for an after the fact demolition.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Building too close to the ocean! Stop it! Take a look at the beach from Marriott to where bush assaulted a women. It’s gone and the buildings walls are destroyed.

    • Anonymous says:

      I see what you did there…

      Note to self; always find a way to insert reference to the assault.

      • Anonymous says:

        Knowing how we speak I’m thinking that bar will have a hard time getting its name in common usage again. (Which is a shame as it wasn’t their fault.) Sort of like ‘the place where the old, old, Holiday Inn used to be’. Or the fork in the road where Durty Reid’s used to be.

    • Don Johnson says:

      The boost business the bar should encourage the National Trust to step in and preserve this place of historic significance for the Cayman Islands. Begin the with commission of an appropriate monument to a local artist (think of the injection of much needed finances to the suffering artist community!) depicting our beloved Speaker in a drunken rage with a fist full of this woman’s hair in one hand, punching her in the face with the other, his foot stomping on a piece of used toilet paper that was once our constitution, accompanied by an engraved plaque explaining the historical significance of the location, and BAM! Where-Bush-Assaulted-a-Woman Beach becomes a brand new must visit tourist destination where we can hang our heads in shame for generations.

  11. hjacques says:

    In the minutes the DOE amongst four objections, stated:

    ‘The department is of the view that the site is not suitable for the construction of permanent structures given its narrow width and questions the ability of the proposal to meet required coastal and road setbacks.’

    How the heck was this ever approved? Maybe the anti corruption boys need take a look.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to build a dock on a canal that had been dredged 20 years ago and the DOE came out and counted the blades of seagrass that would be impacted by the dock and denied the CWL.
    Different rules for those that are politically connected.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The rights of Caymanian landowners must not be trampled upon!

  14. Anonymous says:

    There’s an easy way to rectify this – demolish it.

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