The Freundel Stuart administration has been warned not to make another wrong move with regards to the controversial Hyatt Centric project.
Attorney-at-law and social activist David Comissiong, who is already challenging Government’s decision to give planning permission for the project, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the Stuart administration must be prepared to face further consequences if the developers are allowed to proceed with the construction before a judicial ruling is made.
“One would have expected that as soon as the application challenging the permission was made in court, a responsible and careful Government would have even temporarily suspended the grant of permission,” Comissiong said, while warning that “if Government does not suspend [construction], it runs the risk that the developer can expend money in beginning construction, only to find, six months down the road, that the court says that the permission to construct was not properly granted and is terminated, thereby leaving the developer with a loss.”
Comissiong’s stern warning came amid reports that work was being carried out at the site of the proposed US$100 million development on Bay Street, The City.
Today, workmen were busy spreading construction material at the site, which formerly served as the base for the local Harbour Police.
It was the first sign of construction work since Comissiong filed his crippling interim order on March 22, essentially bringing the multi-million construction to a screeching halt.
Comissiong is challenging Government’s decision not to conduct an environmental impact assessment on the multi-million dollar beachfront development. The attorney had also argued that Stuart, who is the minister responsible for Town & Country Planning, had relied on an outdated Physical Development Plan, even though Section 11(1) of the Town & Country Planning Act stipulates that the plan, which is now 14 years old, must be updated every five years.
He also took issue with the 15-storey elevation, pointing out that the maximum height allowed for beachfront hotels was five-storeys, compared to the seven storeys for non-beachfront tourist accommodation.
However, the US$100 million hotel development is a vital peg in Government’s economic recovery programme and with each day that the project remains stalled officials say it only serves to worsen the island’s economic situation.
When contacted today, Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins sought to point out that it was not a requirement that all conditions be satisfied, before a development could proceed.
“Hyatt has 57 conditions. So I would recommend that you look at the conditions, because planning permission is granted subject to conditions. But it is not every condition that has to be discharged prior to the commencement of any work.
“That statement is a general statement, that is not specific to Hyatt, because that works for Hyatt and that works for ‘Joe Blow’,” Cummins told Barbados TODAY.
However, when asked about the recent court ruling issued in relation to Hyatt, Cummins replied: “I can’t speak to the court aspect of it, I could speak to the other aspect which I just discussed.”
In a subsequent release sent to Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Hyatt Centric Carlisle Bay Barbados, the company behind the project, said members of the public will be given an opportunity to have their say on the controversial development, when a team from the firm makes itself available on Saturday morning at the site.
The release said the two-hour interactive session runs from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and will allow residents and other interested parties to learn more about the project and to see first-hand the architects’ designs and renderings.
Noting that such an event was always on the cards, spokesman James Edghill said the team was looking forward to working with the community on the venture.
He pointed out that, along with bringing back jobs to Bridgetown, the resort will help to jumpstart efforts to revitalize the City.
“The resort will be fully accessible and on Saturday, members of the public will learn about special features that will cater specifically to them,” he added.