Objector appeals One GT hotel tower

| 26/07/2021 | 112 Comments
“Merrendale” in about 1940

(CNS: The objector whose 19th century family home, “Merrendale” will be sitting at the foot of George Town’s first 10-storey structure, the One GT hotel, has filed an appeal against the granting of planning permission following a meeting last week when the Central Planning Authority adjourned the case that had been approved by the previous board with conditions. A proxy for the family who attended the planning meeting last Wednesday revealed that she was denied the right to speak in the increasingly controversial case.

The filing of the appeal to the Planning Appeals Tribunal was announced by the local activist group, Amplify Cayman, which has taken up this particular issue due to the wider public concern the project has raised, which is the need to highlight the lack of public consultation around planning issues.

Premier Wayne Panton recently spoke about the need for a national plan rather than a piecemeal approach to planning that produces inconsistencies in the development of Cayman, and the activists believe that this project contradicts the commitments made by PACT and what Panton said about responsibly improving “the quality of life for this and future generations of Caymanians”.

They said it is also in conflict with the National Tourism Plan, which aims to “protect our environment, celebrate our cultural heritage, whilst supporting a vibrant tourism economy that benefits the people”. However, the Department of Tourism supported the project in its original submissions to planning, though there has been no needs assessment for the facility and its potential impact.

Planning regulations were changed at the end of the last administration to allow for mixed-use buildings in the capital up to ten storeys. These amendments, which paved the way for this project, were introduced by then planning minister Joey Hew at one of the last legislative meetings of the previous administration.

However, the overall plan for the downtown area of the capital remains a work in progress, and the decision to approve this hotel development was made well ahead of a review of PlanCayman, including the full George Town district.

The proposed CI$80 million project by HPW Investments Ltd is for a 268,173 sq.ft hotel with about 231 rooms and an estimated occupancy of 450 people, as well as related amenities and retail space. the current plans also indicate that the hotel would have eleven storeys due to roof top amenities and the plan does not provide adequate parking.

Although the hotel project raises a number of issues and will have a direct impact on the immediate owners in the area, only one family had objected. Anne Briggs, a relative and spokesperson for that family who is being supported by Amplify Cayman, said she was invited to last Wednesday’s meeting to comment on the revised plan for the hotel but was not allowed to speak. 

“I explained I was there as a proxy for my cousin, who had been invited to speak. After whispers and out of the room conversations, I was told I could sit and listen but was not allowed to address the board,” she related in a press statement announcing the appeal. “It felt like I was being explicitly silenced. I come from George Town and my cousin’s home is a beautiful example of our historic architecture. At what point did Caymanians lose the right to speak to their heritage and what is the purpose of the board if they don’t adhere to the policies of protecting our culture? We are disenfranchised to extinction.”

The historic family home was built in 1865 and is one of only a handful of buildings left in the Cayman Islands that represent the country’s built history.

Amplify Cayman said a comprehensive national development plan is urgently needed to take into account these types of projects that irreversibly change the face of the Cayman Islands and directly impact the vulnerable. They also submitted a letter expressing concerns surrounding policy, rezoning, infrastructure, heritage, procedural concerns and other matters to the PACT Government and Leader of the Opposition prior to the second hearing this week.

“Part of the objectives of the Amplify Cayman collective is to be a citizen’s voice to participate in the discussion and decisions that impact all of us. We encourage persons wishing to contribute towards a better, sustainable, equitable Cayman for this and future generations to support grassroots initiatives and open dialogue.

CNS Correction: A previous version of this article said that the project had been cleared by the CPA, whereas the case has been adjourned to the next meeting.

To provide time or pro bono support for the group or for more information email
amplifycayman@gmail.com

Read more about “Merrendale” on the National Trust website.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (112)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good ground for appeal.breach of natural justice. Did they realise what the have put on the platter for u.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Precedent calls for an EIA to me mandated.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is development really helping us. Are we overdeveloping. The more we develop the more work permits. A handful of caymanian beneficiaries with foreign investors. Need to rethink and agree on NDP

  4. Anonymous says:

    The DOE/NCC Screening Opinion and Planning Review for the hotel can provide answers to some of these queries. Surely they did one? CNS?

    CNS: You can find all the documentation for the application here.

    • Anonymous says:

      So let me get this right, for a ground breaking project in central GT and new height zoned application for an $80mill project the DOE had nothing to say??? Yet they screened for one on Dart’s Hotel Indigo which is also $80mill? I call REAL B/S. No-one cares a crap!

      • Anonymous says:

        An EIA screening is a test to see if an EIA is required, and one was not required for Hotel Indigo, so what’s your issue? Oh I know, you’re someone pretending not to know how it goes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently the DOE’s screening opinion on the proposed 10 story hotel was sent to planning. However, they were not added to June 23rd agenda, and thus not put before the board.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You guys really want to kill a multi-million dollar hotel for stay over tourism because there is an old termite eaten house in the neighbourhood? WTF? Posters on CNS seem to be against any and everything.

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      Not at all. Most are just against runaway construction where there are already unfilled hotels.

      Some of us are against foreign investors — of which HPW of Jersey is — getting concessions, which allows them to unfairly compete against existing Caymanian businesses.

      And finally, some of us want to preserve culture over high-rise development, because we believe that high-rises are not consistent with the Character of these wee islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        👍👍👍

      • Anonymous says:

        Beaumont Beautifully stated it.
        And, Cayman does not have to be Dubai. I love Cayman BECAUSE of the rich culture, and of course the diving, but most of all because of the Caymanian people. Wealthy outsiders are destroying your island, and leaving those who it truly belongs to behind.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yup our RICH culture. This is a perfect example of Caymans RICH stamping their little feet so they get what they want.

        • Anonymous says:

          Unfortunately, wealthy Caymanians are destroying their own Islands!

      • Anonymous says:

        According to PACT the country voted for change. We will find out shortly weather we got it or if its the same old BS.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do tell. How does tourism help us? Caymanians have long been marginalized in the industry. The wages are derisory. The importation of poverty required to sustain it diminishes our society. The environmental costs are enormous. Who really benefits?

      • Anonymous says:

        Sort or right but partially misses the point. Tourism helps you by bringing conumers to these islands who spend money. If you have some entrepreneurial spirit, you can start a business and sell things to them. Many Caymanians have done this and made a nice living from it. Without tourism these islands are in the middle of nowhere with no real resources to speak of. What else is there? Financial services, sure. But many people aren’t suited to that as a career and that’s fine. Its also worth pointing out that that industry is under considerable global pressure for reform and as such the boom times are not likely to last that much longer.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have repeatedly watched the industry chase locals from the beaches, and deny opportunity to very capable people. The employment practices of some in the industry have been disgusting. Salaries are less now than decades ago. Very capable Caymanians have been forced away. Why should the Caymanian people embrace an industry that has literally caused them, and their society, so much harm. The tourism industry has A LOT of making up to do.

          • Anonymous says:

            I worked for a Tour bus company for 2 years – owned by a Caymanian. It was horrible. I am much better treated by a non-caymanian business owner. You can’t simply make a blanket statement about ‘all’businesses.

          • Anonymous says:

            Hi, this is with everything here not just watersports. Locals are ran from all true opportunities. Facts.

        • D. Truth says:

          My greatest wish is that tour ships would cease to exist.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yep just like the American Indians. Give the rich developers concessions and they make millions in profits. Whilst the natives sells trinkets. This doesn’t sound fair but has been going on for years. Our government has sold us out for a few kegs of whisky and a few top hats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just when will we stop kissing the a@# of every sweet talking developer who comes in to Cayman with these grand plans but will only do it if they get concessions and lots of cheap labor yet they do nothing to help alleviate all the added pressure onto our existing infrastructure? Yes our past goverment and CPA did everything these developers wanted but we the general public are the ones who suffer. Let them pay all the normal fees and if that is such a problem then they may as well pack up and head to the next great spot they have scoped out. And just in case all the cry babies who will condemn my comments as it will be the ruin of the Cayman Islands, well you whiners should go with your developer buddies so you all can enjoy each other!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah…. against everything! Especially YOU!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t mind the idea of a hotel there. But why does it have to be so ugly? This beast is one giant block built out to the maximum it could be built on all sides.

    • Ol says:

      Just like the Grand Hyatt by the same architect

      • Anonymous says:

        The significance of “same Architect” is that it can be converted to apartments (same as Hyatt) when the developers have finished the “10 story hotel”. They can then recoup all their long term investment for a relatively quick profit.
        That’s the obvious thing to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Should be apartments, not a hotel. Visitors aren’t going to want to stay in GT.

      • Anonymous says:

        Should be mixed use. Of course the Cayman Government has refused to allow that. Hence a dead capital while Camana Bay thrives.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s not emotions. If CNS is allowed to censor peoples posts all the time and call out “spreading misinformation”, then they too should be careful to get information correct before misinforming the public.

    During the public part of this meeting when the applicant appeared, they admitted they didnt complete one of the conditions yet so it was obvious to all in the room that it would be adjourned. How do you get from that to saying that the CPA approved the conditions???

    CNS: You are correct, we should be and are very careful to get facts right but occasionally mistakes happen, as they do in every media house from time to time, big or small. However, when it comes to our attention, as in this case, we correct it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not emotions? Then what? Retaliation?

      CNS does sensor everything that contradicts their belief when it comes to Covid19. And I don’t like it at all.

      Still not a reason to be rude and make conclusions based on assumptions. Don’t forget that CNS allows us to engage in communication while remaining anonymous.

      We can communicate with tact and diplomacy or show our “real face” since nobody is “watching”.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lots of zoning was changed in the last administration at the last minute.
    Don’t look over here though! Nothing to see here…
    Duh

  9. Anonymous says:

    Merrendale. Celebrating Cayman’s racial diversity as long ago as 1940.

  10. SMH says:

    “ Planning regulations were changed at the end of the last administration to allow for mixed-use buildings in the capital up to ten storeys. These amendments, which paved the way for this project, were introduced by then planning minister Joey Hew at one of the last legislative meetings of the previous administration.”

    Joey Hew did everything possible to help their supporters and friends no matter the costs to the Caymanian people. SMH

  11. Anonymous says:

    Follow the money…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Joey Joey Joey you again WHY?

  13. Anonymous says:

    With the PPM it’s always about greed and the simple things

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another special deal signed in the last days of the Joey Who legacy as minister of planning with no public consultation. How many of these is he directly reponsible for?

    • Anonymous says:

      1:57 pm Why have public consultation on a private developer’s application which complies with Planning regulations?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think they mean: Joey, then minister, changed the laws int he last 10 minutes of his administration, and without public consultation

      • Anonymous says:

        1) That’s not what he said. 2) You need better regulation. 3) Allowing a maximum of 10 stories should not mean that every thing should automatically be 10 stories just because someone is willing to pay for it.

  15. A. Caymanian says:

    A ten story hotel has no place in the Cayman Islands. Is the HPW Investments Ltd associated with Daddy Dart? Does Dart know he is ruining the Cayman Islands for the Caymanian people? I hope you enjoy hell, Mr. Dart!

    • Anonymous says:

      1:31 pm Such a rude comment when you obviously know nothing about the applicant who is, by the way, Trevor Watkins and Jeremy Hurst.

      • Anonymous says:

        Same to them.

      • Anonymous says:

        The same ones building the monstrosity by Hurley’s that will be dumping loads of extra traffic into the already congested roads. Very questionable bunch I would say!

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, 11:02. But always remember our Parliaments are made up entirely of generational Caymanians so it is under their watch that all this development has been and still is ( and likely will be) going on. Can’t blame “furriners” for this.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are correct! We really have some greedy azzholes who do whatever gives them more at the trough!

      • Anonymous says:

        Trevor Watkins and his family are very decent citizens.
        They have quietly donated vast sums to local causes and undertake responsible investments.
        As for the other guy ..he’s a real estate salesman.

        • Anonymous says:

          The grave yards are full of nice guys and decent citizens, but remember Dart started out with the park fiasco’s. These developers are out for one thing – more money for themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am no fan of many of the Dart projects, but you first ask if they are involved, then jump to an answer without proof, just to criticize.

      You did your argument no favor by poisoning it with a conclusion without basis.

      • Fred Freeloader says:

        To the best of my knowledge there are no positives concerning Dart’s painfully long destruction and ruination of the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t blame Dart for this one..

      • The Seer says:

        Why not? Most everything he has done is not for the people of the Cayman Islands. He is only interested in enriching himself!

    • anon against ignorance says:

      1.31pm Maybe Dart leave you to sort out your own garbage dump then, in which case your own politicians will leave it to fester for another 50 years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dart and Dump go together – garbage business model, lots of styrofoam garbage globally, etc

        He does the dump only because it benefits him

        Shut and go back to your tunnel, won’t you

      • Anonymous says:

        A garbage dump overflowing with refuse created by tourists staying in his facilities, shopping in his tourist stores, and imported to work in his businesses, yes. It is great that he is helping out. We are of course paying.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey you@1:31 this project has nothing to with Cousin Dartey. Wjrther it is or not, it isnot fit for purpose in George Town. That’s it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Beaumont Beautifully stated it.
      And, Cayman does not have to be Dubai. I love Cayman BECAUSE of the rich culture, and of course the diving, but most of all because of the Caymanian people. Wealthy outsiders are destroying your island, and leaving those who it truly belongs to behind.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This hotel will compliment our cruise berthing facility nicely. Thanks PACT.

  17. Anonymous says:

    80 Million dollars spent for less than 500 people.

    People don’t understand the housing costs that are going to be seen on the island in the next few years.

    If you think 400-500k Is a lot for a 500sqft apartment.
    Wait until you see what planning has approved years to come in secrets.

    Ultra-high net worth individuals will take over Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank God. Our economic systems need them. They pay in and take nothing out. They are funding almost everything we get the benefit of from our government, from education to healthcare and tourism stipends.

      • Anonymous says:

        Their concrete footprints are getting to be too much. At some point even they will notice and that will be the end.

        • Anonymous says:

          Those concrete footprints are nothing to do with most of the UHNW persons taking up residence here.

    • Anonymous says:

      this has to change… start running in they homes

  18. Anonymous says:

    CNS do you even bother to fact-check your stories?

    You state that the objector “has filed an appeal after the Central Planning Authority granted planning permission for the project at a meeting last week because all the conditions set out by the previous board had been met by the developers”. This is factually incorrect on at least 2 points (1) the CPA did NOT approve the hotel last week. In fact it was approved by the (previous) CPA on 23rd June. (2) the (current) CPA did NOT agree that the conditions set by the (previous) CPA had been met.
    CNS do you have a copy of the Notice of Appeal?

    CNS: I think the issue is an editing fault (i.e. mine) and I’ve reworded it. Sorry. I don’t have a copy of the notice but Amplify Cayman might. Their email is at the end.

    We (the CNS two-person team) go to great lengths to try to make sure that everything in our articles is accurate, but even huge news rooms with layers of fact-checkers sometimes make mistakes. You know that, right? In this case, it’s a minor technical issue. Planning has been approved. An appeal has been filed. The neighbours are upset.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hold your horses, cowboy and tone down your emotions.

      I disagree with CNS on everything COVID related, HOWEVER I would never use this kind of tone of voice figuratively speaking, or accuse them in laziness (“do you even bother”).

      You have no idea what it takes for 2 people to run an online news source. I have great respect for the high quality journalism CNS represents.

      • Anonymous says:

        High quality? By kindergarten standards

        • Anonymous says:

          Read Compass then. They are “chewing” their articles as if readers have intellect of a grade school students. “What it is? What does that mean? “ as if we can’t figure out what means what.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where can we find the information for the CPA decision on 21 July?

      CNS: It will eventually be posted here.

      • Anonymous says:

        3:21 pm CNS you mean to tell us you don’t get a copy of the CPA decision list the day following the meeting? Wow, I’m surprised.

        CNS: I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS (re your reply to 1:08 pm) I don’t see where you have reworded (or retracted) anything. The article still states that the CPA’s conditions “have been met by the developers”. This is NOT true.

      CNS: I reworded it to make it absolutely clear that the application was approved by the previous board with conditions. Wendy is in court right now so I can’t check with her but it’s a very rare for her to get stuff wrong.

      Update: Wendy double checked and found that there was a misunderstanding over the info she received. The article has been corrected. As an explanation, she usually attends the CPA meetings in person but there was another meeting at the same time, so she had to get the info from a source. As said before, we really do try to be accurate but mistakes happen in every media house everywhere. Still, mea culpa. Or nostra culpae.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Developers violate the rules all the time and get excused “after the fact.” They still show up claiming “I didn’t know I needed a permit for mechanical land clearing” and never get a penalty. They constantly build too close to the ocean and the road and get approval because someone down the way previously got a board 30 years ago to let him build too close. Stop using old bad acts as “precedent” to justify more bad decisions that violate the plain language of the laws. The midnight change in zoning in George Town (without any plan for what would come next) is just one example how the developers get to do anything, but the people have no say at all. It’s amazing that the CPA couldn’t find a way to allow ONE lady to speak up about the monstrosity they were ramming through. (The only positive thing in all this is that it is nearly certain that this particular monstrosity will never be built. The negative is that the approval will be used as “precedent” even though no opposition was allowed.)

    • Anonymous says:

      So what you are saying is that they should just build the hotel and then apply for after the fact permission? I like the way you think.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well Schmo, Wait to see how many deviations from the plans get built and then get approved after the fact. It’s the same thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Local individuals violate the rules far more regularly than developers. Hundred of examples can be seen in plain sight every day. By the way, what on earth is going on with that property on Crewe Rd by the church? Planning approved?

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow. Based on the lack of action by our robust law enforcers people could be left with the impression that we are corrupt.

        I see the breaches too. Why is there no effective action?

        • Yuno Hoo says:

          Why is there no effective action? It’s because the corruption is just so widespread, it is out of control! Let us hope PACT can remain clean, and get the thieves OUT! It won’t be easy….

      • Seeing double says:

        3.10pm Also,what is going on with the “link road”from Eastern Ave to North Church St. It has been in complete hibernation for over 3 months, did they forget to obtain planning permission?.Perhaps they did as anyone with a jot of common sense would question why we need two link roads 100 yards apart, when the other (Bodden Rd) sees little traffic.

        • Anonymous says:

          I use Bodden Rd a lot – although I cringe as my poor car jolts over the terrible road surface, caused by lorries trundling back and forth over it every day, plus the general lack of care by the NRA.

  20. Anonymous says:

    so what is the objection? if anythig the new development will only enhance the ‘hertiage’ feel of the merren property.

  21. anonymous says:

    Amplified Cayman is not a Company or Registered Charity in Cayman.

    Who are they? What makes them expert in Town Planning and Development?

    The National Trust on the other hand is a fantastic charity to support.

    • Amplify Cayman is a public advocacy group for sustainability to be a citizen’s voice to participate in the discussion and decisions that impact all of us. To provide time or pro bono support for the grassroots group you can visit their website or email for more info.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This whole hotel project is a stupid idea anyway. Tourists want to stay in beachfront hotels. Business people do too!

    Besides, if we get enough business travel to justify a hotel like that, why aren’t we horribly concerned about denying all these business travelers while we keep our borders closed?

  23. Anonymous says:

    This hotel is exactly what will rejuvenate GT and put money into the pockets of Caymanians who own businesses and buildings there. One would have to be a moron to not let this pass!

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