Barkers 5-storey hotel faces objections

| 27/09/2021 | 55 Comments
Cayman News Service
Barkers Beach Hotel site in West Bay

(CNS): A controversial application for a hotel in West Bay just over a mile from the Barkers Beach National Park is being challenged by a local objector on a number of grounds, including legal technical challenges over setbacks and other compliance problems. But the project by Coe Group Ltd for the Barkers Beach Resort is also facing objections because of the impact this and similar types of development are having on the price of property and how this is affecting the ability of local people to become homeowners.

If the proposed resort on Conch Point Drive is built, a number of poorly maintained but nevertheless affordable rental units will be replaced with a luxury resort, and the objector outlined the concerns of many residents that in the absence of any development needs assessment, luxury and tourism projects are taking over the land.

“There is great concern about entry level properties for young Caymanians in their own homeland and young people in our community to reinvest in the Barkers, Conch Point, Spanish Bay and Mount Pleasant area,” the objector wrote in the letter to the Central Planning Authority. which is due to hear the application on Wednesday.

“Luxury developments like this, while they might increase my own property evaluation, will only drive up property costs more, putting ownership further from the reach of young people. The short term gain in property sales values is not worth the long term impact to the housing market,” the neighbouring landowner pointed out. “This also speaks to the development needs assessment regarding entry and mid level properties for purchase vs how much luxury and tourist accommodation our country actually needs.”

The current government policy, which has been clearly stated by Premier Wayne Panton, is for Cayman to reconsider how it develops and for sustainability to be at its core. While that relates significantly to climate change and building resilience into the islands’ development as sea level rises, sustainability also relates to the economic issues around development.

But although the new CPA was appointed by members of the PACT Government, so far many of the decisions made since those appointments came into effect on 2 July has been contrary to government policy and have flown in the face of sustainability goals.

From allowing the controversial Boggy Sands property planning permission to allowing the clearance of mangroves on land owned by the planning minister’s father in the absence of any planning application, the board has given permission to projects that had even been turned down by the previous members, who were heavily criticized for their willingness to approve almost everything unless there was a shortage of parking.

The application for the Barkers hotel is on man-modified land. However, the Department of Environment noted the threat the project poses to a Marine Protected Area during construction and directed the CPA to impose certain conditions during the building phase in an effort to prevent debris pollution in the sea, which is a growing problem with Grand Cayman’s excessive coastal development.

The DoE also raised concerns about any future work the owners might have planned for the beach that they have not yet applied to do, given that the site’s beach is a much more wild sandy coast that the image of Seven Mile Beach, which the applicants have used in the promotion of the project to overseas investors.

“The application does not appear to include a request to modify or groom the shoreline at this time,” the DoE wrote in its submissions, as they noted that the “site has a naturally rocky/rubbly beach due to the off-shore topography and grooming this beach will not result in a ‘Seven Mile Beach’ sandy aesthetic”.

The experts warned, “Constant beach grooming is not typically endorsed by the DoE as it tends to lead to other impacts such as the loss of the beach profile or erosion. On windward coastline beaches such as this, the rock and rubble act to stabilize the shoreline sediment including the sand beach itself. Sifting of the sand brings the finer sands to the top of the beach profile, exposing them to wind erosion.”

The objector has also raised concerns about what the developers will be doing on the beach, pointing out that the development website depicts a white sand beach with buildings right on the shore.

“Are their clients aware of what that beach actually looks like? Will Coe Group be seeking a Coastal Works application to dredge or alter the beach to meet client’s expectations as advertised?” the objection letter asks the CPA to consider when it hears the application. “There is little to no vegetation directly between the building and the shore in either the plan or digital renderings on the website. This raises great concerns regarding beach erosion, especially in light of the massive erosion of Seven Mile Beach.”

The application also has a number of technical challenges that could lead to the scaling back of the project, which currently includes three, 5-storey buildings connected by walkways, as well as a pool, three cabanas, a restaurant, bar, and LPG tanks.

The developers are expected to appear before the CPA on Wednesday afternoon to address a number of concerns in addition to the neighbouring landowner’s objections. This includes the inadequate proposed setbacks on every side of the buildings, the off-site parking surface, the absence of the required public right of way, and the traffic flow.

See the application in the CPA agenda in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It makes one wonder that after all the millions that Morne Boates and the rest of these foreign developers have made of coming here and exploiting us that they can’t do one single thing to help the islands that made them they millionaires and billionaires that they have become..

    Imagine this man came from South Africa with nothing and living in the lap of luxury and laughing at us as he continues to destroy our last bastion of unspoiled environment and beaches in West Bay…What else? Oh yes, I hear he has now set eyes on East End..

    If all of these developers would get together and set aside at least of one or two large pieces of good beach land so that our children and grandchildren will always have a place to go to the beach it would show us that they at least cared one iota..Destroying all of our good beaches will leave a bad legacy for them and our grandchildren will blame us for not demanding something from these developers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Follow the money folks…Follow the money!…It’s always about the money… and of course who wields the rubber stamp.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hon, Bernie Bush, Hon. Mckeeva Bush, Hon Andre Ebanks and PM Hon Kathyann Ebanks as representative, we expect you to deliver as promised and as a reminder to the Hon B. Bush as he stated on his Chamber of Commerce debate when you told Rolston Anglin that Barkers MUST BE PRESERVED AT WHAT EVER COST, EVEN IF IT MEANS GOVERNMENT BUYING IT BACK FROM IT OWNERS LIKE THEY DID WITH SMITH COVE. All MLA (WB) campaigned on Perseverance of Barkers. Now we expect action. Barkers must remain for our future generations-CAYMANIANS

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure they’ve already approved the application.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just wish these uber wealthy developers would stop building and enjoy the enormous spoils the islands have earned them. They are helping no-one but themselves. PACT – you have to tax foreign owners and investors. This is the only way to make housing affordable for any normal working person.

  6. #PeopleUnitedforBarkers says:

    Citizens are really not properly represented on the board, we have no social or cultural housing representative, no legal representative and no respect for our environmental authority to protect our lands. This is how CPA decisions are easily clouded by the flashy giveaways, legal reps, branding, slide presentations and eagerness of applicants and developers to build a new version of kingdom for Cayman.

    Our planning regulations are in place to make sure that we have construction and planning guidelines for build quality, security, safety, functionality etc. Compliance with the regulations is a function of the planning dept and it really does seem to be a waste of time to send planning applications to the board for approval if there is not complete compliance with those regulations first. If the argument to do this is that variances are at the discretion of the board then equally the board has the same unwavering discretion to deny applications in response to public concerns.

    The duty of the Authority is to uphold policy approved by Cabinet with respect to the use and development of land and to follow the guidance and principles of the 1997 DEVELOPMENT PLAN. The guiding principles are really very significant and more applicable today than when they were written. In addition, the authority is too liaise with the various authorities like roads, waste, environment, sewage etc. who will also be subject to the same Cabinet policy guidelines. It is unclear to me how and why each Ministry and Authority continually do not apply cohesive policy. Given that every elected official ran on a sustainability and equality platform representing concerns about stressed infrastructure, there should be no grey areas as to what policy we are currently guided by.

    The DP objective is clear: “The general aim of the plan is to maintain and enhance the quality of life in the Cayman Islands by effectively directing development so as to safeguard (ie to protect from harm or damage) the economic, cultural, social and general welfare of the people, and subject thereto the environment”.

    The CPA have complete power and designation to apply the development plan principles but often fail to do their duty “to accommodate the present and future population of the Cayman Islands to the best advantage having regard to the quality of life and the economic well-being of the people and to their individual requirements;“. I guess it just depends which ‘people’ you are serving as your appointment.

    Opposing lawyers will have different interpretations of the law. Equally, there will be opposing arguments to what I have set out in this perspective. But what is abundantly clear, the community of Barkers, including political members and West Bay Community District groups do not want or need a Resort Hotel and have actively been pursuing alternative ideas for the area. Who will be their voice if not the CPA?

    The plan policies can be read in full here item 1.3:

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who exactly is expected to stay in this hotel?!

  8. Not Eden Hurston says:

    I stand with Linda.


    • Real Eden Hurlston says:

      Hi. Eden Hurlston here. Not sure if this is supposed to be me but I didn’t write this last night. Everyone knows how I feel about this.
      Not sure why someone would need to pretend to be me?

      – Until a national housing and accommodations needs assessment is done, not one more luxury development should be approved, especially a resort.

      – As long as climate change is a thing, developing coasts and mangroves should be treated as a national security issue.

      – This resort doesn’t fit with the aesthetic of our community. Plain to see, plus with the setback issues, this shouldn’t even be submitted for approval.

      CNS: Apologies Eden! I’ve changed the name of the imposter.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this the same developer that was in the fight to save Smith Barcadere? Now he is doing this to Barkers…Maybe since he lives in his gated community of Websters Estates, he was just looking out for where he lives and he couldn’t care less about destroying Barkers.

  10. Just Sayn' says:

    Because we need another hotel when there is no plan to reopen the border any time soon. Just sayn’

  11. Anonymous says:

    How interesting that a development by Morne Botes, the great champion of beach access rights (because he wanted them for his Boggy Sabd Road development), has, er, no beach access rights.

    Who IS Morne Botes?

    • Anonymous says:

      He is a wonderful man who cares about his adopted home – The Cayman Islands. You haters need to leave him alone as all his developments are first class.

      • Anonymous says:

        “You haters need to leave him alone…” 😂 I can almost HEAR that SA accent!

        • anonymous says:

          “who cares about his adopted home – The Cayman Islands” – this would imply we accept you here? Because we don’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        His adopted home?? Don’t make me laugh..He is no different than any other developer that comes here, finds himself a Caymanian that will front for him and makes a fortune at our expense and environmental detriment..If things were great in South Africa he would be out of here in a heartbeat..

  12. Anonymous says:

    We wanted change we got it. You wait more bull to come.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Whilst I understand the concerns of some folks who have weighed in on this, I feel obliged to point out that the current government’s “planning policy” is necessarily the same as the last government’s policy, which is the policy which is enshrined in the Development Plan, which was derived from parliamentary process. The DP is “the comprehensive policy” which the CPA are legally obligated to follow (per section 5 of the Development and Planning Act).
    Under that Plan, the area in question has been zoned for Hotel/Tourism development for over 20 years, so it was then, and still is now, the clear legislative intent to allow the construction of five storey structures there.
    Anyone who bought land in that area must know that or could easily have ascertained that, with minimal due diligence.
    And, like it or not, Premier Panton doesn’t get to change the Development Plan without extensive public consultation and then further legislative process.
    That’s simply how it works in a democratic society. Anything else would be a banana republic approach to planning control.
    No one has the right to eschew lawful process simply because they believe their cause is noble.
    And the PACT government doesn’t have a “go green mandate” in any event, since it’s is composed of various independents, many of whom are apparently “pro-development”, albeit not in the same way as the last lot.
    This development is something which the CPA can properly consider and approve, provided it meets the requirements of the planning regulations, whether someone nearby likes it or not, unless they can demonstrate that it is harmful to a recognized planning interest. To be clear, the CPA can refuse it, but they must have good, sound reason for doing so, and that must be based on the recognized principles of planning control as defined by our law.
    Obviously, if the new government wishes to implement a more sustainable form of development, then it will need to start the process ASAP, as that exercise will take years to complete. After all, it took us 20 years to get the first set of amendments to the DP done (in 1997) and no Govt since has been able to achieve anything other than an occasional single parcel rezone, with the occasional tinkering (and in some instances, butchering) of the legislative framework, usually for some special interest development.
    What I find much more perturbing is that there is a massive single family home in the vicinity that was permitted to be built a few years ago across a long established, irrefutable public prescriptive easement, without any objection or consequence. To me, that is far more harmful to the public’s interest than a proposal to build a development that is apparently designed in accordance with the relevant legislation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for your comments. As much as it pains me, I agree with you. Still makes me sad, and also makes me think of those 5 Caymanian women warriors who were mocked and ignored when they tried their best to retain their birthright on SMB.

    • #BarkersforLocals says:

      Do we think written by the applicant or their lawyer? Why be anonymous.

    • Anonymous says:

      You forget that Cabinet sets height regulations at a whim with no minutes of the discussion, not to mention the duty and tax waivers. The planning law is a bad job and the secret Cabinet procedure is inherently corrupt.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It has to be recognized that the Governments of the Cayman Islands (I don’t care which Government is in place) depend on the revenues from planning applications/land transfer stamp duties (resulting in uncontrolled development) & work permits (resulting in unstoppable imported labour and all it’s ills).

    NO Government will reject any development which can put a good chunk of fees into their coffers, nor the work permits resulting from that development – short-term or long-term.

    It’s not a matter of changing Board members; it’s a matter of changing the system, which NO Government wants to do ….a All the more so now when tourism revenue streams have dried up!!

    Continuing to sell out these islands!!! For who??

    • #CAYMANKIND says:

      PPM gave millions away in concessions for 50-99 years over the past 8 years to their friends and business associates including dart and other developers that sponsored the party. Many of the projects were exempt from fees so revenue was surrendered or significantly decreased because developers control politicians and allowed some to feed at the troughs in side deals.

      • Anonymous says:

        Red herring , this has nothing to do with this application.
        May as well drag out what UDP did in their years of “What’s in this for me?”
        UDP are back in power, that should scare you.
        PPM were amateurs compared to that lot.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Rather than rejecting development in general, perhaps make it a condition of approving developments over a certain number of units, say 20 units, or whatever number makes sense, and mandate that developers also agree to build 5 corresponding affordable housing units if they want approval of the high-end development.

    • Anonymous says:

      15% in the real word; designated as Low-income and/or affordable….

    • Anonymous says:

      Cool….where’s that in the planning laws + regulations? Or were you hoping for the CPA to just make up some new rules on the spot which have zero legality?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Somebody in authority STAND UP! Enforce the setbacks, don’t be stupid or greedy or cowardly or whatever malady led to decisions that destroyed our seven mile beach.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Barkers Beach will lose its nice private setting if they put a hotel there!

  18. Anonymous says:

    You are all wasting your bloody time as the new CPA chairman has already shown he is just like the old CPA chairman and will let any old “development” be approved. This chairman is undoubtedly more dangerous than the last one as the recent Boggy Sound road approval shows. The island is just a developers dream; do not worry it won’t take them long to finish things off!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Please get rid of this CPA Board immediately. They are no different from the past board and do not in any reflect the PACT Government.

    Please stop the madness. Al’T was bad enough but Ian Pairadeau seems intent on carrying on his legacy..

    • Anonymous says:

      Just remember he was a part of the pro cruise port, will be interesting to see if that monster does not raise its head again. Could come like “needed to spur the industry”.

      • Anonymous says:

        So long as we have Mac in power, the cruise port is not dead.
        His follower Saunders will say we need the income and Mac’s prodigy Kenneth will say my people need the jobs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shut these private sector boards down now.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Responsible development is good for the Island, and indeed, rejecting any and all development is not going to help affordability.

    That said, affordability is a entirely fair concern for the objector to raise and one that any country that is going through a boom encounters.

    The government might try and balance interests by introducing levies or other taxes on luxury developments / developers specifically earmarked for affordable housing projects.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tough cookies fella, if you can not afford it then get out. You can not tax people to make low cost housing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Somebody needs to get out but it’s not homeowners.

        Developer bottom line: greed at all costs and hop along to the next victims. Hope they know what is coming, pedestal to pancake!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Ummmm. British Columbia and next the whole Canada is taxing that ass.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tax all sales to non residents by loading a 50% to 75% Sales Tax at the non-residents’ expense.

        All residents to pay the current property sales tax rates.

        This would take some of the heat out of the property market asap and, perhaps, drive change in the type of construction.

        However – too many vested interests – that will not happen and the next (this?) generation will be left outside the entrance of the gated communities, looking in….and perhaps bitterly and enviously…..

      • Lomart says:

        Get out?? Who must get out?? You better get out – greed is going to choke unna to death!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I recall that the lead objector to Condos proposed in South Sound was passionate in his stand against developing a pristine location , which had been enjoyed by generations of Caymanians .
      Allegedly the same person is behind the Barkers beach development, which has raised concerns with the DOE, as well as failing to meet certain basic planning/setback requirements.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is because that same person now has a horse in the race! Money changes everything, especially in the Cayman Islands!

      • Anonymous says:

        1:52 pm you are correct. Morne Botes is the lead on this one too. However read the DOE comments. They don’t seem that concerned at all compared to other developments. But the developer is asking for a good number of variances.

    • Anonymous says:

      In Cayman we do not do levies or other taxes on luxury developments we give the concessions to help underwrite the cost of their monstrosities. Just the opposite of what you are suggesting.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Go back to three stories. 5-10 is unnecessary. Enforce setbacks.

    • Anonymous says:

      No we need 30 stories!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Just as long as you are willing to stay in the penthouse when the next storm hits!! Lol. These developers only seeing dollar signs and playing peek-a-boo with lawsuits.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Other than some of the coastline, West Bay is a complete dump. I don’t think there is any risk of property values increasing in interior West Bay. Most people dont maintain their properties or do any landscaping. It is hideous to drive through there.

  23. JTB says:

    Developers needn’t worry.

    The CPA are getting out their rubber stamp.

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