Go-ahead for controversial Paget development
A ten-apartment building in the central parishes has been approved despite environmental concerns.
The application by developer Gilbert Lopes proposed the erection of a two-storey building on land between Middle Road and the Railway Trail near the Loughlands estate in Paget.
The completed development would feature ten single-bedroom units, a lawn area and parking for 13 vehicles and 12 bikes, in line with an application submitted last September.
However, neighbours and environmental groups including the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Audubon Society all launched objections to the plan.
Many of the complaints were sparked by the driveway, which would cut through woodland reserve and a section of open space reserve used for farming.
A spokesman for the Bermuda Audubon Society said in an objection letter that the undeveloped land was an “oasis” for wildlife.
The spokesman said: “Our natural spaces are finite and every parcel is precious. We cannot afford to diminish these areas bit by bit.
“The proposal under consideration is especially egregious as it will impact a rather large — for Bermuda — continuous area of undeveloped woodland and agricultural fields.
“Our flora and fauna, especially our birds, require these larger green belts to thrive. Having a wide roadway essentially bisect this special woodland area is not acceptable.”
A neighbour wrote in another objection letter: “The fact is that this proposed driveway will create extreme excavation of the area zoned as woodland reserve and will be a deep and permanent scar on the land.
“The open space reserve is currently being farmed and a precious resource like arable land should not be diminished to make room for a concrete driveway.”
Mr Lopes, through lawyer Michelle Stone, said the property had a long-established right of way to connect it to Middle Road. A representative of Benevides Architects, the firm behind the project’s design, said the impact of the driveway was as small as possible.
He said: “We understand the objectors having concerns regarding some woodland reserve being destroyed to allow the driveway and proposed residential unit to proceed.
“However, due to the location of the parcel of land where development is permitted, even if an 800 square foot ‘farmer’s cottage’ was proposed, the driveway access would still be the same.
“The driveway we have shown is the shortest possible to meet gradient requirements and site conditions.”
A planning inspector recommended the Development Applications Board approve the application in February, despite the environmental concerns.
The inspector said: “The application site is a development lot with a specified development area. While access to the development area necessitates traversing a conservation base and two conservation areas, this is permissible since there is no alternative access or deeded right of way.”
The inspector added that although concerns had been raised by objectors about the density of the project, single bedroom units such as those proposed were needed in Bermuda.
The official said: “In the current economic conditions, the island does not require the construction of additional large, sprawling single family homes or condominiums. Smaller one-bedroom apartment units are in demand with the proposed encroachments offset by the provision of these units.
“Ultimately, the efficient use of lands zoned for residential purposes at higher densities of development will decrease the need for sprawl on open space.
The inspector added: “Whilst the department can empathise with the objectors’ views and the concerns expressed by the consulting agencies, this lot is a bona fide building lot and, regardless of whether one dwelling or ten are proposed, the impact of the access would be identical in terms of location, length and loss of tree cover, as would the clearing of the residential 2 portion of the lot for development purposes.
“Where possible and practical, conditions have been added to mitigate longer term impacts.”
Approval for the project was granted on March 11.
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