Pond fix

by Shawn Cumberbatch

Efforts are on to salvage a $150 million luxury golf, residential and hotel project which has been waiting in the wings for more than three years.

Barbados TODAY has learnt that high-level talks involving senior members of the Freundel Stuart Administration and Royal Westmoreland are underway in an attempt to get that St. James luxury development’s expansion onto the nearby Lancaster Plantation property it owns underway.

Discussions have already been held with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Senator Darcy Boyce is chairing a working group on the matter.

The major sticking point continues to be the granting of approval for the construction of a $4.4 million reservoir Royal Westmoreland officials said was necessary for the 18 hole championship golf course, hotel and other residences.

These developments were confirmed today by the Royal Westmoreland Construction Director, Ian Putley, who was cautiously optimistic about the likelihood a positive outcome within the coming months.

“We are currently in discussion with a working group led by Senator Darcy Boyce who is trying to get the confirmation of compliance with Town & Country Development Planning conditions letter,” the official told Barbados TODAY.

“We had received the approval from Town & Country Development Planning on September 30, 2011, but it came with some conditions that required us to submit further information to the Barbados Water Authority.

“We did this, met with Dr. John Mwansa and his [BWA] team in February 2012 and have had email and verbal confirmation that they are happy and that the file has been returned to Town & Country Development Planning to allow them to write to us stating that we have complied with the requirements. Senator Boyce is trying to obtain this confirmation,” he added.

While Putley was hopeful of a positive outcome in the not too distant future, he said: “The overall logic remains the same though: no reservoir, no golf course, no development, no hotel.”

His cautious optimism was based, however, on the fact that the BWA appeared to have been satisfied with how Royal Westmoreland intended to approach the construction of the reservoir needed for the golf course. Putley said his company and its engineers from Stantec were able to give assurances about dams and water overflow issues.

“We are not in a position yet where we can start work but we are all fairly hopeful. I feel we are closer; we are certainly several steps closer and we have had some fairly good meetings with Minister Sinckler. It is a turnaround from where we were two years ago and I am quietly confident that something will come in the next few months,” he said.

The overall Lancaster project will cost between $120 million and $150 million, including a budgeted $46.5 million to construct the golf course and pay for other costs, including roads, design fees, and related services.

The major reason this venture took so long to be built was because Town Planning and BWA officials were concerned that the island’s water supply could be contaminated if the reservoir was constructed.

In addition to the golf course and hotel, the development will have 135 luxury residential units. shawncumberbatch@barbadostoday.bb

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