“Proceed at your own risk.” This word of caution to Hyatt developer, Mark Maloney, comes from social activist and Ambassador to CARICOM David Commissiong, who is warning that any plans to construct the 15-storey hotel could very well result in major losses.
Following the reports surfacing this last week that construction could begin in 2019; Comissiong told Barbados TODAY this morning that he has no intention of backing off from his legal challenge to the planning permission for the US $100-million project, which was filed in 2017.
The attorney-at-law explained that while there was nothing legally preventing the hotel from being built as permission was granted by then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the pending court ruling on whether that permission was lawful, could result in the forced abandonment of the project midway.
“If the developer starts building then most definitely I will approach the courts to have the matter brought forward because obviously I will not sit back and allow the developer to complete the construction without the case being concluded,” Comissiong stressed.
Back in March 2017, Comissiong filed for a Judicial Review of the permissions granted by Stuart to Maloney for the construction of the hotel based on a perceived failure by Maloney to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) at the construction site.
Stuart responded by filing a counter-claim, questioning whether Comissiong, as an ordinary citizen had the right to bring a judicial review application against the government. In December, Justice Sonia Richards ruled that Comissiong did in fact have the right to challenge Stuart’s decision, a decision that was immediately appealed by Stuart’s legal team.
Following the ousting of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration in May this year, Comissiong revealed that if the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government wanted to see the end of this case they would need to discontinue the appeal against ruling and concede that PM Stuart went against the rule of law by granting permission to Maloney.
This morning Comissiong revealed that to date Government has not acceded to his demands and therefore the legal challenge is still hanging over the project.
“Mr Maloney has always had the power to commence the construction. I have questioned that grant of permission and I have questioned its legitimacy and I have asked the court to determine if the application was properly processed and if not that permission should be squashed. In the meantime the permission exist and Mr Maloney has the power to start construction.
“However if it subsequently turns out that the grant of permission was not properly processed then Mr Maloney could very well end up losing monies expended to that point,” said Comissiong, noting that he is not backing down from his original call for the EIA and for town hall meetings to be held before building permission is granted.