Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins is making it clear that Bridgetown’s UNESCO World Heritage designation will not determine whether or not the controversial Hyatt hotel project on Bay Street, The City will receive Government approval.
Responding to concerns raised by the National Trust, as well as social activist David Comissiong, that the proposed 15 storey property would place Barbados’ World Heritage status at risk, Cummins said it was the island’s sovereign right to determine its best national development interest supersedes UNESCO’s heritage designations.
“Barbados is still a sovereign country. Barbados still has development goals and being appointed to the World Heritage list does not mean that development in Barbados will stop. As I tell people all the time, this current physical development plan that we now use which was amended in 2003, that plan had set out what was required for World Heritage status,” he told the media following Thursday’s unveiling of a plaque to commemorate those who served 25 years or more at the Town & Country Planning department.
“I can’t speak for the social activist and I can’t speak for the National Trust but what I will say is that the National Trust is one of the partners with whom we consult and they have shared their views. However, the views of the National Trust are always respected, but it does not mean that the views of the National Trust are always correct,” Cummins said.
The Chief Town Planner reiterated his previously stated position that the granting of a permit for construction of the 237-room resort on almost three acres of waterfront along Carlisle Bay was out of his hands and in Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s court.
Stuart, along with Cummins, recently toured the proposed site.
Cummins also revealed that his department had already submitted its recommendations on the project to the Prime Minister’s office, but he refused to disclose what was recommended.
“Hyatt is not my decision. Since 1986, the Town Planning order was amended, which gives the minister responsible for planning – and in this particular instance it’s the Prime Minister – the authority to grant planning permission for beach front development, which Hyatt is . . . . There is always an assessment from our end but I can’t [reveal details] because it is a matter which I would have sent to the minister in confidence,” Cummins stated.
Earlier this week, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy had sought to brush aside concerns that controversy surrounding the proposed Hyatt hotel, had in any way deterred the investors.
In fact, Sealy said he remained confident that the project would receive the necessary approvals from Town & Country Planning and that construction would begin shortly.
“I am not aware that the Hyatt people are having any second thoughts. The permit is being processed in order for them to start work. We look forward to that permit being issued and work being started,” he told Barbados TODAY at the World Travel Market in London.