Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong has issued a stern caution to developers against “pre-judging” construction start dates for the long delayed Hyatt Centric hotel.
He insists the requisite requirements of the Town and Country Planning Department must first be satisfied.
In fact, Comissiong, who has been locked in a court battle since February 2017 to bar developers from constructing the 15-story hotel, is willing to do it again if developers fail to follow the correct procedure in its most recent application.
He was responding to recent comments made by developer Mark Maloney, that construction on the new project could start as soon as November this year.
“We are working towards being able to start within the next four months or so,” said Maloney on a recent edition of Starcom Network’s Down to Brass Tacks radio programme.
At the time, Maloney promised to work closely with the planning department to ensure the process was properly followed including “a lot of studies” and “proper” public engagement.
But Comissiong, the social activist whose appointment as ambassador followed Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s election victory last May, made it clear he would be monitoring the process just as closely as he did over two years ago.
“If you come with a different scheme for a different type of hotel, then you have to make a separate application for the new project and it has to go through the proper processing which involves an Environmental Impact Assessment inclusive of the holding of town halls meetings at which citizens and residents of Barbados can ask questions and make objections and all of that will have to be recorded and taken into account by the town and country planning department before any decision can be made to grant planning permission,” said Comissiong.
He asserted that such a project must be subjected to the same level of scrutiny as that of the Blue Horizons Hotel, which has been heavily criticised by the public .
It was on this basis, he asserted: “I do not see how Mr. Maloney can be saying that he will start construction in November. Any application that he made has to be properly processed… just as a week ago, there was a town hall meeting in relation to the Blue Horizons Hotel for planning permission. Mr Maloney’s application cannot be treated any differently than the application submitted by the Blue Horizons Hotel.”
“The point is that Mr Maloney or nobody else can come and authoritatively say that construction will start in November because you are prejudging the application process.
“An application for planning permission on the beach must be treated more rigorously than an application on the land side on the road,” the activist insisted.
Amid Comissiong’s queries, Government has signalled its intention to acquire the land on Bay Street, belonging to Ms Asha “Ram” Mirchandani, which currently houses the Liquidation Centre.
The acquisition is at an advanced stage according to Minister of Housing and Lands, George Payne, who last week said the land had been secured.
Since then, notices have been placed by the Chief Land Surveyor David McCollin on the property at Bay Street informing owners that Government has acquired the land for the purpose of Tourism Development and noted that any claims for compensation should be made on or before August 26, 2019. [email protected]