The Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins says the final decision on the proposed Hyatt Centric Resort Hotel is completely out of his hands.
“That matter has been referred to the Minister responsible for Town Planning . . . the Prime Minister . . . for his decision,” he told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the 15-storey development at Bay Street, St Michael.
Cummins, who recently resigned as chairman of the local World Heritage Committee, also said his decision to quit the Committee, was not up for public discussion, even though that Committee is said to be responsible for advising Government on policies and programmes for the conservation and management of heritage sites, such as Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, where the Hyatt is to be located.
Questioned about the matter today, Cummins, who headed up the Heritage Committee from 2010 to 2016 before resigning six months ago, said as he was not even aware that the committee, which, according to its terms of reference, was appointed by Cabinet to manage and protect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, had a say in whether or not Hyatt is given final approval.
“I am not aware that is the case,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The Chief Town Planner also said he was not aware that one of the functions of the local committee was to advise Government on any development within the heritage zone.
“When I was chairman that was not one of the functions, so I don’t know if it has changed,” Cummins said.
Earlier this week, new chairman Steve Devonish, who recently took over as chairman of the local World Heritage Committee following Cummins’ resignation, said he was staying clear of the controversy surrounding the proposed luxury project.
However, social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong has made it clear that if the hotel project is not subjected to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, he will be headed to court. Comissiong contends that the hotel will have implications for the environmental well being of the City of Bridgetown and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Barbados National Trust (BNT), which is represented on the Barbados World Heritage Committee, has also objected to the project, fearing its construction would cause Barbados to lose its crucial World Heritage designation for the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison and put it on the “danger list”.