Aster PAD approved in face of legal challenge

| 15/05/2021 | 43 Comments
Aerial view of Aster hospital location

(CNS): The proposed project for another medical tourism city, this time in West Bay, has been approved by the Central Planning Authority, despite the fact that the deal the developers struck with the government is subject to judicial review. While the PAD approval does not give Aster Cayman MedCity permission to begin construction of any of the buildings, it has paved the way for the landowners to begin clearing the near 40-acre site, half of which is mangrove wetlands. With a pending legal action that could derail the hospital, conservationists worry that this could see West Bay lose a swathe of important wetland habitat for a project that does not go ahead.

Following the green light from the CPA, Gene Thompson, the local project director for the development, said the team was pleased to hear the application had been successful.

“This confirmation covers the decision of the approval of the application. We now await the official written notice. This is an important milestone, allowing us to proceed with obtaining the necessary permissions to commence site works, but more importantly representing a move forward for our multi-phase project,” he said.

Thompson had delivered the presentation to the CPA, which had clearly been keen to approve the application, despite the multiple concerns raised by the Department of Environment and the failure of Aster to come up with a like-for-like plan to replace the mangrove loss. The PAD was also objected to by several neighboring property owners, who had tried to raise the question of the outstanding legal action filed by Doctors Hospital. However, this was dismissed by the CPA.

Thompson had strongly objected to any idea that the deal Aster signed with the former administration just weeks before the elections was in any way not confirmed and completed, as he stressed that this was a done deal.

However, according to the Doctors Hospital judicial review application, which has been granted leave to be heard by the courts, the agreements between the government and Aster as well as the last agreement between the government and the existing Health City project maybe unlawful and breach the Constitution.

The lawyers, McGrath Tonner, representing CTMH Holdings Ltd, the parent company of the hospital, claim in the application that the government has not set out the full and transparent criteria for the list of various duty and fee waivers that have been granted to these hospitals, while at the same time has acted unfairly and discriminated against Doctors Hospital by denying it any of the same concessions.

The hospital argues that government is wrong for being willing to forego many hundreds of thousands of dollars in duty fees relating to both Health City and Aster MedCity without full transparency, while claiming that it is fettered by the law from offering the same waivers to Doctors Hospital.

As examples of the kind of savings these two medical projects have as a result of the waiver denied to CTMH, the claim points out that importation of a $1 million ultrasound machine that will cost them $250,000 in customs duty, which would be waived for the two medical cities, and while a doctor’s annual work permit fee is costing the Doctors Hospital $13,650, no fees are to be collected for overseas physicians employed at either Aster or Health City.

The claim is against government and not the medical tourism projects, which are listed as interested parties. In it the lawyers also revealed that the government ignored a letter sent on 9 March about the proposed action, in which they asked for the contact details of Aster and Health City’s principals, who are outside this jurisdiction. There is a time limit on judicial reviews and a slow response to anyone seeking to file a judicial review risks the right the public has to such legal action being undermined. The government has also failed to respond to the hospital’s request for the criteria for waiving work permit fees for the two medical projects.

The JR application also states that the government has treated Health City and plans to treat Aster MedCity far more favourably that it has the local Doctors Hospital, having granted only partial and selected waivers to the facility on certain medical supplies and having completely refused to grant any concessions on others. The hospital points out that when it applied for a blanket waiver on testing equipment imported to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the government told the Doctors Hospital that it was not permitted to grant such a waiver.

While Justice Cheryl Richards has granted the applicants leave for the judicial review, no date has yet been set for the hearing.

See the details of the JR the CNS Library.

Share your vote!

How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: development, Local News

Comments (43)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    This little tidbit from the past sums up everything. Alden Despite the recommendations of the Auditor General and PAC kept his buddies in the CPA..

  2. mikey says:

    so… more hospitals and no mental health institutes?

    • Anonymous says:

      Try to keep up Mikey. The mental health facilities are under construction in East End and should be completed by December. A project by PPM

  3. j Ebanks says:

    Are Gene and ALT related?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The islands of Fools!

  5. The root of the problem is GREED says:

    Questions: whose land was it and did someone put a gun in their mouth to sell it?

    • D. Truth says:

      It dosn’t matter whose land it is…… the mangroves should not be destroyed to make flooding worseD. during hurricanes. There will always be hurricanes. Why make them more destructive? Money isn’t everything, but certain people think it is more important than Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Question: Why do you hate so much?

  6. Lendell Layman says:

    Every thing should be put on hold until the results of the Judicial Review are determined. They should not be allowed to do anything to the site until then.

    You hear the statement trigger happy in terms of the old west. Here in Cayman the developers are bulldozer happy.

    Until the court decides, and I will respect that decision, no harm should be done to the property.

    • Anonymous says:

      And Unlike during the boom of the 1980s and 1990’s all this development madness currently is being patronized and supported by no other than our own Caymanians. So the ignorant folk that is still blaming “foreigners” for everything need to open their eyes. Stop wasting time calling the talk shows inciting all this false patriotism and then run to the nearest realtor to sell your pass-down family land to the lowest bidder. Who will be the majority of the time, the same foreigner you were just bad-mouthing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is probably not a good place to put a hospital in the first place. If we have another hurricane like Ivan – it might get totally destroyed – with the sea washing it away.

    • Anonymous says:

      1.17pm You are right but remember the present HSA George Town Hospital had 6-8 feet of seawater during Ivan.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s inland! If the sea washes this hospital away it will wash everything else away first. Hospital is in the heart of West Bay, the most populous district on the island. Seems like a pretty good spot.

      • Anonymous says:

        Having family in that area during Ivan the sea did wash through there quite forcefully, which took everyone by surprise. Hence the need to listen to the experts and not just assume that anything should be built anywhere.

  8. Anonymous says:

    All of you complaining about the board members please remember that if the developer complies with the law the board MUST approve the project. No board member can say that we are over developing, that is not their remit! It is up to Cabinet to issue a directive on development and set the policy. If cabinet does not do that the board members simply follow the law.

    • Anonymous says:

      1:17 pm: Are you saying that the CPA is NOT seeking personal gain in their operation?

    • Anonymous says:

      And yet, we wouldn’t need an appeals tribunal if the CPA managed to do that all the time. But your point does stand – because even the PAT is reduced to simply deciding if the CPA followed the law. The CPA does have discretion, but doesn’t use it, and it’s not because the members are worried about getting appealed. In my experience with the PAT, the decision issued least often is the one quashing the CPA decision and substituting another. It is almost impossible for an appellant to demonstrate that the CPA got it so wrong that the PAT can make a different decision.

    • Anonymous says:

      They didn’t comply with the planning regulations.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We do not need another hospital!

    • Anonymous says:

      To poster 7.44 It is mostly aimed at medical tourists, but the offshoot is that locals will have access to certain procedures and treatment that presently can only be obtained by local residents going overseas.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is what they sold us on Health City and they now compete directly with local health providers but with a different level of qualifications.

  10. Anonymous says:


  11. Anonymous says:

    So we sell our land then we expect the new land owners not to build? Then stop selling your mangrove land and shut up!

  12. Sunrise says:

    I am sorry, but another failure. Only the developers will benefit from this!! How many caymanians will truly be able to use such a facility? You will need a great deal of insurance coverage to even be admitted to this sort of medical care. And will this be another hospital where doctors are imported without medical experience? What is the proven facts of Health City success rate?

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely ridiculous comment.

      • Sunrise says:

        It may be ridiculous to you, but you have no choice but to wait until you are approved for health city or overseas medical attention, if you don’t have enough coverage. Instead of just wanting to build more hospitals that people cannot afford to go to, why not have socialized/universal health care like the United Kingdom? My wife and I pay almost $1000.00 a month for coverage to avoid such situations, as not everyone get a referral for optional treatment at other facilities. Check your statistics and see that not even 20% get referrals!! So, if you think what I am saying is stupid, wait until it is your turn!!

    • Anonymous says:

      1.33 You will be able to use the same insurance that is used when a you are referred to Health City or an overseas hospital.

      • Sunrise says:

        See comment 10:58 and let me know if I am still stupid!! I am talking about your coverage and the referral statistics, as you don’t need a referral if you have enough coverage. Sorry for the ones that do need the referral!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well done A.LT! Your building, roofing and hardware store will do fabulously well out of this decision.

  14. Anonymous says:

    PACT please dismiss the entire CPA Board immediately before they do more damage.

    • Anonymous says:

      Educate yourself 8.42.
      If an application meets the requirements of the Law and Regulations, the CPA is obliged to approve it…..the CPA can not interfere with the process by injecting their subjective opinions.

      • Anonymous says:

        They do have some discretion and they don’t always make the right decisions otherwise we would not need the Appeals Tribunal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds good to me!

    • Anonymous says:

      PACT – you are lucky to have had a board in place that actually knows what they are doing. If you want to save the environment in the Cayman Islands and balance development, let development occur at will on the western panhandle of Grand and race the East End waterlines and make Little Cayman a giant park

  15. A little old lady who lives in a shoe. says:

    I say…. You people amassing fortunes at the CPA. How many more hospitals, etcetera is it going to take to satisfy your greed? Don’t you think we are about saturated?

  16. Anonymous says:

    I told you that nobody stops the Thompsons from doing whatever they want. Nobody.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not with that mentality.

    • Anonymous says:

      I read Mary Thompson’s book. Gene is Mary’s Daughter and she did a great job instilling her values in him. Let’s all thank God tonight that ‘nobody stops the Thompsons’ so long as they keep doing such incredible things for their community. This Country needs more Thompsons – good people to serve this Country and build good things. We need a lot less jealous haters like you who “can’t”, “won’t” and don’t deserve to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.