It’s a lie
Against a backdrop of claims that it has not received town planning permission despite the recent public signing of an agreement, the country was told this afternoon that construction on the much-maligned 15-storey Hyatt Centric Resort Hotel planned for Bay Street, St Michael will start in six weeks.
In a passionate defence of the multi million dollar project during debate of the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals this afternoon, Minister of International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss dismissed comments by Member of Parliament for The City Colonel Jeffrey Bostic that the hotel had not been given planning approval.
“I heard the Honourable Member for the City get up and say today that the Hyatt project did not have Town Planning permission . . . and Madame Deputy Speaker if we in the Government side do not stop these mistruths in their tracks . . . they go out there, and not only domestic investors, but regional and international investors ask, what kind of society are we running in Barbados,” Inniss said.
He suggested that it would not have made sense for an announcement to be made about the construction of the hotel without first applying for permission.
The minister said he had been furnished with the facts, while emphasizing that the Opposition members were lying.
Inniss revealed that the hotel developers had applied for permission and it was approved with conditions.
“I believe they have appealed some of the conditions and that matter is also being addressed at tine highest level,” he said.
He also suggested that Bostic – who had earlier said he supported the project but had some questions – had been misled by some of his Opposition colleagues when he “mistakenly” stated that an environmental impact study had not been conducted.
“No other physical development project in Barbados has had as many studies undertaken by the applicant, as had been done for what we call the Hyatt project. They had a heritage impact study done, which looks at what is taking place within the physical environs in terms of the impact upon the heritage situation, given the fact that we have a UNESCO qualification,” the Member of Parliament for St James South stated.
He also took a shot at social activist David Comissiong who has written to Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins demanding that the application for Town and Country Planning permission to construct the proposed 15 story property be subjected to “a most rigorous and comprehensive” environmental impact and assessment procedure, including a social impact assessment study.
In an August 4, 2016 letter to Cummins, Comissiong also requested that the people of the neighbouring communities be consulted in town hall meetings and through relevant sociological surveys and assessments before permission is granted for the controversial project.
“Who says that that has not been done is totally misguided, including a former Democratic Labour Party member, PEP [People’s Empowerment Party] member, who only when he graduated from law school recognized he was black – but when he was at Harrison College he was a white boy . . . Comissiong, whoever, now recognize that he black, all of a sudden talking about heritage study. . . That was done,” the Minister of International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development declared.
He added that an environmental impact assessment study, a traffic study, a geotechnical survey, a marine survey and a geo-physical study were conducted.
Two days after developers Mark Maloney and James Edgehill signed an agreement with Hyatt’s Senior Vice President Pat McCudden on July 27 for the construction of the US$100 million Hyatt Centric Resort, the Barbados National Trust, which said it had been acting as advisor on the project to the Town & Country Planning Department, disclosed that the project had not yet been granted planning approval.
“As far as I am aware, planning approval for this development has yet to be granted. The Barbados National Trust has been acting in an advisory role to Town & Country Planning since last year in respect of the application to develop the Bridgetown site, and this work is on-going,” National Trust President Peter Stevens told Barbados TODAY at the time.
“Our main concern with any proposal in this sensitive area, is how the development may affect the status of our World Heritage site and our ability to development the vitally important heritage niche within our economy,” Stevens added, as he cautioned that these issues were especially critical when the proposed structure was likely to become the most dominating feature on the skyline.
Today, Inniss disclosed that about 500 Barbadians would find work in the initial stages of the project.
“When that project gets started, hopefully in six weeks time, it means that at least 500 Barbadians will gain employment in this country between now and January . . . The same poor working class families that you get out here and keep so much noise that they are being down trodden and don’t have a chance to move up, they are the ones who will gain employment,” Inniss said.
He complained that the “these reckless” statements about the project left the impression that Barbados was “some sort of banana republic” and scared off investors.
“You really believe that the State would be so irresponsible as to go and grant permission to anyone to construct a project of that size without having the appropriate surveys done? We must have more faith in ourselves. But when you go out there and give the impression that these things happen, you are wrong and misleading,” the minister warned.