State register shows Hyatt project yet to be granted permission
The situation regarding the multi-million dollar Hyatt Centric Resort on Bay Street, St Michael got more curious today as Barbados TODAY investigations cast doubt over whether the 15-storey property had received planning permission.
Barbados TODAY examined the physical official state register in the Town and Country Planning Development Office, and it revealed that a final decision had not been taken on an application for permission to build the hotel.
Furthermore, an official of the Town Planning office said that as far as he could see from additional data, no permission had been granted for the construction of the hotel, pointing out that the application was still being processed and awaiting information from an international agency.
He did not name the agency or specify why such information was required.
The state register, the official record for physical developments in Barbados, revealed that the application was submitted by Vision Development Inc of developer Mark Maloney on March 30, 2015 in care of Edghill Consulting Inc, Port St Charles, Heywoods, St Peter.
However, nothing was there to suggest that the project had been approved.
Minister of International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss had told Parliament during the debate of the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals on Friday, that Opposition Member of Parliament for The City Colonel Jeffrey Bostic was not telling the truth when he said the hotel had not been given planning approval, claiming such “mistruths” were scaring away potential investors.
“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 on 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 then.
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 the highest level,” he said. So sure that the project had been given the “green light’, the Minister also announced in Parliament that it should start in six weeks time with 500 Barbadians finding jobs during construction.
Meanwhile, attorney at law and social activist David Comissiong has threatened legal action against the construction of the proposed hotel, if the project was not subjected to a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment. Comissiong has made clear his opposition to the project, which was announced last month, saying it would have implications for the environmental well-being of the city of Bridgetown and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In a statement issued over the weekend, he noted claims made by Inniss that the Chief Town Planner had already dealt with, and approved with conditions, construction of the controversial hotel, were false.
Inniss had told the House that an environmental impact assessment (EIA), a heritage impact assessment, a traffic study, a geotechnical survey, a marine survey and a geophysaical survey had been carried out.
Comissiong contended that the people of Barbados were never given public notice of, or invited to participate in any EIA pertaining to the proposed 15-storey structure.
He argued that a “legitimate” EIA “could not be carried out in secret – unknown to the Barbadian public– and without the participation and input of the people of Barbados, particularly the participation and input of the people who reside in the communities closest to and most affected by the proposed hotel”.
Comissiong also highlighted implications for Bridgetown and the environment if the project went ahead.
Hyatt Corporation announced on July 27 that one of its affiliates had signed a management agreement with Vision Developments Inc for the construction of the 237-room resort on the outskirts of central Bridgetown.