Former owners plead to save Judkin Lane land
The former owners of land earmarked for a quarry said they had not expected the site to be worked when they sold it.
Katherina Harlow, whose family sold the land at Judkin Lane, Hamilton Parish, in January 2019, said they had expected a house to be built on the site.
She added: “The Judkin Lane property had an old ruin - the remnant of a modest family home which was abandoned - and we sold this with a modest in-principle planning permission for a house set within the imprint of the ruin.
“Never did I expect this to become total destruction of the site in the way proposed or the site of a huge quarry.”
Ms Harlow said the plot had not been quarried before, but that the family also owned an adjoining property with an old quarry that was used to provide slate after back-to-back hurricanes in 2014.
She said: “It was offered to the Government this time, but they did not progress our offer.”
Ms Harlow added that the family had earlier donated or sold property to the Bermuda National Trust, including part of Mangrove Lake and Mangroville - properties on either side of the proposed quarry.
She said: “We understand and appreciate the value of protecting land and our environment.”
She added the family had discussed a possible sale of the Judkin Lane property to the Buy Back Bermuda campaign.
Ms Harlow said: “The BNT have been aware of various land parcels which abut their holdings in this area - previously donated by my family - which have been available and for sale.
“They expressed interest in 2011 and David Saul wanted to have a Buy Back Bermuda campaign to raise the money to buy them for Bermuda.
“Sadly, before this could be organised there was, according to Dr Saul, a falling-out between Dr Saul and the Bermuda Audubon Society and he withdrew from the proposed campaign because of it.”
Ms Harlow said that the planned sale was abandoned as a result of Dr Saul’s departure.
She added: “The land remained available and for sale and several parties expressed interest over the years. In 2018, our real estate agent was approached again by BNT and they were sent details of the land parcels for sale.”
She added the family later got a first offer for the site from the present owner, which was turned down. Ms Harlow said: “Our agent went back to the BNT to see if they were interested as we had another party who was intending to purchase it.
“They responded that they were not interested at the present time and were unable to progress matters.”
Ms Harlow said the bidder later increased their offer and the property changed hands last January. The Government was asked about Ms Harlow’s claim that the family had offered it an old quarry for slate.
A spokesman said: “In Bermuda, the provision of slate is managed privately by local businesses.
“As long as there are competent operators available, Government will not and should not compete against the livelihood of these businesses.
“However, for matters of national importance, Government will continue to facilitate where it is able.”
The Development Applications Board gave planning permission for a quarry for one year at the site in October in the wake of a slate shortage because of damage caused by Hurricane Humberto.
The quarry application for the land, owned by Nelson Cordeiro, was made by Shawn Perott.
But conservation groups said the Government had forced through the application, which is near Mangrove Lake, a nature reserve.
David Wingate, a veteran conservationist, also objected to the plan.
Dr Wingate said: “Once you have got a quarry, it’s permanent. The land doesn’t restore itself afterwards. It’s a permanent hole in the ground.
“Our remaining open space resources are too rare now, too scarce to be able to squander them like that, and we should be looking at alternatives to Bermuda’s slate.”
He added that Bermuda slate would always be needed to repair damaged roofs, but that the Government should mandate synthetic slate roofs on new buildings to reduce demand.
• Update: The Department of Planning issued the following statement after this story was published.
1. The process for assessing planning applications was followed in accordance with the requirements of the Development and Planning Act 1974. Specifically, the application was advertised allowing any person/entity 14 days to lodge objections or representations.
2. Applications are presented to the Development Applications Board (DAB) with a recommendation of approval or refusal. The DAB is supplied with the details of the planning assessment along with copies of any objections or representations received in advance of the meeting in order to make an informed and independent decision.
3. Given an appeal has been lodged for this application, the specifics of the application details cannot be further discussed. It is only at the appeal stage that the Minister responsible for Planning is involved.
4. It should be noted that in order to develop any site, particularly one that is steeply sloping, site preparation is required. As a preferable alternative to excavation, extraction of quality material for roof slate (which is a form of quarrying) is a far more sustainable method of preparing the site for the development of a house.