Major mixed-use Batabano project gets CPA thumbs up

| 26/03/2024 | 40 Comments
Artist’s rendition of the West Village development

(CNS): The once quiet residential area of Batabano in West Bay, which is going through a significant period of change, is facing yet another major development that was given the green light by the Central Planning Authority last month. According to the CPA minutes for the meeting on 28 February, the board gave the thumbs up for West Village, a commercial and residential development just west of the intersection of Batabano Road with the end of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. It will include 92 condos, several commercial units and more than 360 parking spaces

This development and a number of other major projects in the area are completely transforming the community. In 2019, after Rubis applied to build a gas station to service the traffic coming off the ETH, the PPM-led administration rezoned the flood-prone area, increasing the density and allowing mixed-use projects.

Legoland, another condo development on Batabano Road, has already been approved. This project includes just under 100 units in twelve apartment blocks over a four-acre site. And although it has not yet been confirmed, the RCIPS has cleared and earmarked a site along the same stretch of road to replace its ageing district police station.

Only people who own property within 1,500 feet of these developments can formally object to planning applications, but the transformation of the area is a concern for many residents in the district.

The changing face of West Bay was discussed at a public meeting last April, especially the over-development in the Batabano area, which is prone to flooding and where the remaining mangroves in the district are rapidly disappearing. As the swamp land, which acts as a natural basin for flood water, gets incrementally filled in and elevated above the existing properties in the area, there are growing fears that the original homes and other buildings will take the brunt of future flooding.

Another major project, 20 North Development, has been proposed for a very low-lying piece of land off Willie Farrington Lane that backs onto Batabano and averages less than one foot above sea level in the middle of the last stretch of wetlands. The application for this development is set to return before the CPA on Wednesday.

Although 20 North was refused planning permission in August, the units nevertheless continue to be for sale on its website. This development has attracted more objectors than West Village as there are more residents within the radius allowed for formal objections.

Despite broad concerns in the community about the general loss of mangroves and wetlands and the knock-on impact of flooding that could go well beyond the official objection zone, the owners of property outside the 1500ft radius of a development cannot formally object, even if they are impacted. They must rely on the CPA’s obligations to protect the interests of the wider community.

There was only one official objector to West Village, the latest project in the area to receive planning permission. That homeowner was especially concerned about the fact that the developer will be filling the land well above the surrounding parcels so that flood waters will be driven onto the existing lower-lying properties. The objector urged planning officials to consider carefully the damage caused by the approval of applications for these major projects.

The CPA said that it had approved the revised West Village application, which relates to only Phase 1 of what is expected to be a much bigger development because it complies with the Development and Planning Regulations (2022 Revision), and the board members were satisfied that the site location is suitable for apartments.

According to the board, there are no physical constraints on the site that would prevent the development of apartments, and several apartment developments are already in the surrounding area. The board dismissed the objections, stating that there were insufficient grounds for refusing permission.

“More specifically, the objector’s only stated concerns are with an increase in traffic and additional flooding in the area,” the CPA stated in the minutes. “The Authority is of the view that the objector did not provide any empirical data to demonstrate that the proposed development would increase traffic in the area to an unacceptable level. Further, the authority is of the view that the applicant has the right to develop their property in accordance with the Development and Planning Regulations and that may involve filling the land.”

The CPA said the applicant will be responsible for containing drainage on their property, and as a condition of approval, they will have to prepare a detailed stormwater management plan and install the necessary drainage features on site.

However, the CPA said flooding caused by development on other properties was not the applicant’s responsibility and was outside of its own remit to address through the application it was considering. The CPA indicated that the accumulative impact of new development in the area causing an increase in flooding was not something they felt they needed to factor into the decision.

See the minutes for the CPA meeting on 28 February in the CNS Library.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (40)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you’re so keen on wetlands, why don’t you sacrifice your own home for us to restore your lot to its original state.

    Oh, right, you need somewhere to live, just like the people that will live in these condos.

    If there was no boundary on the ability to object, you’d have all and sundry from the anti-developmentista crowd objecting to everything.

    People have a right to use their own land. Can you imagine if it were otherwise? You’d love to fetter others use but wouldn’t tolerate it when it was your plan being fettered. Absolutely nothing would get built!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    more anti-develppment drivel… full of soundbites and clichés….
    if you think it is illegal…challenge the decision in court.end of story

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. Development = all bad so no focus on the ‘bad developments/developers. Environmental issues = all a priority, which results in no focus on anything substantial. Policing = all a priority which results in nothing getting better.

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    • Anonymous says:

      honestly this mentality is what is destroying these islands. Its a mindset of profit over anything else and damn the consequences. the Cayman Islands is in an enviable position of being able to control population expansion in terms of new arrivals. absolutely build affordable homes for indigenous communities but we don’t need to import an ever expanding society. take heed of what is happening in places like the uk, demand on essential services is crippling the ability to provide health care, education, policing etc for the local community. financial and legal economic pillars, combined with stay over tourism should and could provide a sustainable model to maintain the caymanian miracle. unchecked development, placidly accepted and often actively encouraged to enrich the privileged few will ultimately destroy the way of life we cherish. wake the hell up before it’s too late.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    The only thing one can do will be to sue the crap out of the owners of the condos and businesses when your homes are flooded. Buyers beware and courts be prepared!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      if it’s built to code then how can you sure the owners? I don’t get it.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Because your house was there and built to code. Basically what the CPA and Developers are saying to existing homeowners, screw you and claim on your insurance when we flood you. How is that fair??? Yes sue the crap out of them. All you need is a great lawyer!!!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Not in my backyard! I got mine, no need to build more!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. The hypocrisy of ‘the environmental lot’ writing from their homes built on former mangroves.

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      • Joe Mebe says:

        This post is Exhibit 1 regarding IGNORANCE of how the original / earlier dwellings, even up until just before the new Millennium were built. Early Settlers knew better than to: 1) Build on or too close to the Beach 2) Knew there was enough solid rock land to build dwellings on – Why would they ever “build on ‘former mangroves’ ” The mega machinery so common place in the Industrial Era of the last 150+ or so years, more prevlent for destoying forestry and moving earth in the last 100 years or so, were not even on Grand Cayman until the last generation. Seemed back then once one had a piece of Heavy Machinery litterally every “Tom, Dick and Harry” as they used to say, had to have one too. That is literally when the “Flood Gates Opened”. If these Swamp Land Developers Islands wide believe they will have no liability for creating run off, also known as “FLOODING” onto neighboring parcels, they either have lax legal representation or a greedy RE Agency pushing them as all they can see are sales commissions. Remember the SAD FACT is CPA Members have immunity for decisions / approvals made. Developers and new Strata Lot holders, not so much.

      • Joe Mebe says:

        This post is Exhibit 1 regarding IGNORANCE of how the original / earlier dwellings, even up until just before the new Millennium were built. Early Settlers knew better than to: 1) Build on or too close to the Beach 2) Knew there was enough solid rock land to build dwellings on – Why would they ever “build on ‘former mangroves’ ” The mega machinery so common place in the Industrial Era of the last 150+ or so years, more prevlent for destoying forestry and moving earth in the last 100 years or so, were not even on Grand Cayman until the last generation. Seemed back then once one had a piece of Heavy Machinery litterally every “Tom, Dick and Harry” as they used to say, had to have one too. That is literally when the “Flood Gates Opened”. If these Swamp Land Developers Islands wide believe they will have no liability for creating run off, also known as “FLOODING” onto neighboring parcels, they either have lax legal representation or a greedy RE Agency pushing them as all they can see are sales commissions. Remember the SAD FACT is CPA Members have immunity for decisions / approvals made. Developers and new Strata Lot holders, not so much.

  5. Anonymous says:

    West Bay has 4 MPs who are part of the ruling team. West Bay voters should ask them to change the law to remove the restriction on objections.Also should cap the selli.g price on all those apartments so that they are available for purchase by average Caymanians.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Nowadays, with a full-time “Sustainability Ministry”, one might expect there wouldn’t be any expansion of retail petrol distribution without a matching concurrent licensing requirement to support the alternate transport mediums: ie the missing pedestrian sidewalks, bike lane corridors, and the EV energy transition mission. Further, one might expect congruous supporting policy that all public/business/mall parking lot in the Cayman Islands dedicate a certain percentage of parking slots to bike parking, and the electrification priority, with serviced and reliable 24/7/365 recharge infrastructure by a certain date. That number of parking spots dedicated to this mission, should be going up every year until 2030, for it to be credible. If this Sustainability Ministry isn’t making strides towards this goal, then who/what is it for, and why?

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  7. Say it like it is says:

    We need to know the names of the people behind these developments not just the corporate entities.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Fuel station applicants should be required to install offsetting EV charge points offering 24/7/365 capacity. Every public parking lot should have a percentage of spaces designated for electrification transition mission. It’s crazy that there is expanding petrol distribution in 2024 without any strings attached, even while there is a full-time designated “Sustainability Ministry” pretending that it has any credible purpose. Something has got to give.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    If your new development causes existing properties to flood, it is you responsibility to mitigate the flooding your development causes.

    Common sense yet the CPA wants to ignore the negative externalities of this development. Disgusting and just plain wrong and irresponsible.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    The more government increases salaries, allows board stipends to be quadrupled, adds more to NAU handouts, the more cash flow it needs to keep politicians in office, as well as meet it’s increasing costs to service the hospital, schools, police and so on.
    More housing is good and needed, and will hopefully drive down housing costs due to lack of availability.
    It’s the spiral of generating income in the absence of direct taxation. Get used to it wether you like it or not.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Of course it would get CPA approval…everything does!

    Government and developers’ greed!!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    “Only people who own property within 1,500 feet of these developments can formally object to planning applications, but the transformation of the area is a concern for many residents in the district.”

    Thank you for pointing this out CNS.

    The prohibition of objections that focus on issues that affect an entire district, as well as many other anti-democratic and pro-development cartel changes to planning legislation, have been put in place by successive Cabinets/Executive Councils over the past 25+ years.

    Our current legislation is now so distorted in favour of developers that the only solution that would restore any type of balance would be to permanently disband the CPA and to repeal virtually all changes to our planning legislation that have been made in the past 25 years.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The irony is that these changes were all pushed through by McKeeva Bush to limit objections. No other MP/MLA has had a more damaging impact on Cayman and he keeps getting elected by the people of West Bay so no sympathy from me. You get the government you deserve.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    And when the final area of green space is developed upon, the sand of 7mb washed away, the last blue iguana run over and the once clear air replaced entirely by fumes from cars and cruise liners we might lament but it’ll never return.

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    • Al Catraz says:

      High density mixed use development is preferable to beachfront condos, though. First, Cayman needs more housing, period. So, choices need to be made about how to do that. Then, building places where people can live, work and shop without having to use a car is preferable to single-purpose development. The downside is the ridiculous parking requirement, that leads to under-used hard surfaces for demand that doesn’t exist.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone with a brain knows how absurd the parking situations are here in many places. Not because there are too many unused spaces, but because there aren’t enough!!!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The comment about flooding is a bit incorrect. When you get your plans approved by NrA and WAC and BCU there is a requirement for storm water management which stipulates that storm water from your property may not drain onto the road and that runoff of the new development cannot exceed the runoff from the original piece of land. So you are effectively required as a builder to put the drainage into your project so that it doesn’t flood the neighbors.

    It’s not addressed directly by CPA but it is handled during the permit process.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This will reduce traffic going East …

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    • Anonymous says:

      And how often does this ACTUALLY work?

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    • Anonymous says:

      9.24 Maybe someone should tell the storm water that.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes there is a provision for drainage and storm water management in the process but deep wells don’t work when you’re already at sea level. What other options do they present? None. They say they are planning a deep well and CPA says “check” and that’s it. But when you fill to a higher elevation, the only outcome will be flooding your neighbours. It’s absolute negligence for CPA to operate on a “barely legal” framework instead of a sustainable development one.

      When will someone have the guts to say the way things have been done is not the right way anymore. We know better now. DoE has an office of sustainability experts who are continually ignored.

      Someone will eventually need to take the blamed for CPA / Planning willful ignorance. I can’t wait till those chickens come home to roost.

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      • Anonymous says:

        That is incorrect. The NRA now requires you to test the deep wells with an engineer that shows they can handle and drain a certain amount of water per minute or hours. If they don’t you have to add more or drill them deeper. It’s part of the NRA final inspection and they are very strict about it. Same goes with the “hump” that separates a developers property from the main road. If the levels aren’t there to prevent runoff they will fail you.

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    • #me says:

      Thank you!
      And I wonder where their general waste will be going… Mt Trashmore?

      13
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      • Joe Mebe says:

        This post is Exhibit 1 regarding IGNORANCE of how the original / earlier dwellings, even up until just before the new Millennium were built.

        Early Settlers knew better than to:

        1) Build on or too close to the Beach
        2) Knew there was enough solid rock land to build dwellings on – Why would they ever “build on ‘former mangroves’ ”

        The mega machinery so common place in the Industrial Era of the last 150+ or so years, more prevlent for destoying forestry and moving earth in the last 100 years or so, were not even on Grand Cayman until the last generation.

        Seemed back then once one had a piece of Heavy Machinery litterally every “Tom, Dick and Harry” as they used to say, had to have one too. That is literally when the “Flood Gates Opened”.

        If these Swamp Land Developers Islands wide believe they will have no liability for creating run off, also known as “FLOODING”
        onto neighboring parcels, they either have lax legal representation or a greedy RE Agency pushing them as all they can see are sales commissions.

        Remember the SAD FACT is CPA Members have immunity for decisions / approvals made.

        Developers and new Strata Lot holders, not so much.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe on paper it is stipulated, but definitely not in practice. I live in Prospect. The development next my single family home is built 2 ft higher than the existing ground level. Can you guess what happens now? The runoff from regular rain showers drenches my back porch. In heavy rain it has breached my porch and come INTO my home. Guess who cares.. NoOne but my family and I. We begged CPA not to allow this development for exactly this reason. They didn’t care then and they don’t care now. Free advice to the existing homeowners in Batabano – stock up on towels and sandbags, you’re going to need them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Would installation of drainage wells on your own property assist in removing the water on your property?
        Note the use of the word “your”.

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