Riddell’s Bay objector criticises plan
A homeowner near a former golf course where the new owners want to build 18 luxury homes said yesterday that the plan by developers was “putting up buildings for rich people and to enrich themselves”.
The objector, who asked not to be named, added that the subdivision proposal at the old Riddell’s Bay course in Warwick would reduce the amount of open space in the area.
He said: “Everyone is missing that it basically already is open space.
“They have pitched it as they are trying to preserve land, but they are actually applying to not preserve some of it.
“Bermuda needs to protect this stuff. We cannot undo it once it’s done.”
The man was speaking after site owner Castile Holdings submitted a subdivision application to the planning department for seven homes on the west side of the land, nine on the eastern edge and two on the southeast fringe.
But the proposal said the centre of the property would remain undeveloped, with 14 acres of open space, 12 acres of woodland, 18 acres of nature reserve and 22 acres set aside for recreational use.
But the Riddell’s Bay resident said that the project would involve a massive rezoning of recreational land and that very few people seemed to have noticed.
He added: “This is not how you should do a major change in zoning. It should be a major debate, something like a Special Development Order.”
The objector added: “I think Bermuda needs to know that there’s a proposal to go and develop an iconic open space in Bermuda.
“This is an area that was home to the oldest golf course in Bermuda; and in a huge section of it they are planning on just putting up buildings for rich people and to enrich themselves.”
But a spokesman for Castile Holdings said the project would benefit the environment and the public.
The spokesman added that the development would provide long-term protection for 75 per cent of the property and create the island’s largest conservation area.
He said: “This area is zoned recreational space, which is actually not protected. If we or anyone else wanted to go in there and build a racing track, we could.
“What we intend to do is take the land, which is 90 acres, and basically block 24 acres for very low-density residential.
“The amount of that 24 acres that would be built on would be less than 20 per cent. At the end of the day, the building impact would be under 6 per cent.”
The spokesman added: “The moment we turn this to nature reserve and open space, we are essentially locking in that protection longer term, way beyond where it is protected now.”
He explained that the property would be private, but there would be public access with a parking lot established near the entrance.
The property would also be privately funded and maintained without any burden on the public purse.
The spokesman said: “In our view, it is a massive net gain. We are not holding ourselves out as environmentalists, but we believe in sustainable redevelopment.
“We are going from a private golf course, from which not everyone could benefit, which is effectively standing still, to something where you would have some private houses but you will have 66 acres of nature reserve and parkland, which will become Bermuda’s largest park.”
He added that there had been consultation with government and environmental groups, including the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce and the Bermuda Audubon Society, who had helped shape the plan.
The spokesman said that one part of the land was already zoned as residential, but the developers had moved it into the proposed nature reserve after environmentalist David Wingate pointed out it was a valuable nesting area for herons.
The spokesman added: “The overwhelming majority of the residents of Riddell’s Bay as well as people close to the situation understand and agree that this is a phenomenal opportunity for the environment, for the residents and for Bermuda as a whole.”
A report from Bermuda Environmental Consulting said 51 per cent of the property would be a combination of coastal reserve, nature reserve and open space, with another 22 per cent retained as recreational land.
Riddell’s Bay, Bermuda’s oldest course, closed in March 2016 after nearly a century because the club could not meet its operational costs.
The Royal Gazette revealed later that year that a group of island-based investors had banded together to buy the golf course and planned to create a conservation zone with a limited amount of land used for residential lots on “the outer fringes” of the area.
The subdivision application can be seen at the Department of Planning offices in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on Court Street, Hamilton.
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