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Under threat Wantley singled out for protection in draft plan

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An historic Hamilton building facing demolition by a government quango was singled out for special protection under a development plan which was first promised six years ago.

A draft of the North East Hamilton Local Plan 2021 listed the Princess Street District, which included Wantley House, as an Historic Area that would have received special protection.

The draft plan, on which work began in 2015, stated that Princess Street, which was already designated as an Historic Area in the 2001 City of Hamilton Plan, is of particular historic merit.

It said: “This District is located between Dundonald Street to the south and Angle Street to the north and is home to a concentration of buildings of architectural merit, most notably Victoria Terrace at 13-27 Princess Street, the Wantley building at 20-22 Princess Street and 11 Princess Street.”

It added that the objectives for the area included:

·“To ensure that future development proposals within and around the District are respectful of the character, appearance, form and layout of the area and its setting;” and

· “To support the retention and restoration of the Wantley building in recognition of its historical and architectural contribution to the area.”

However, the plan is not due to come into effect until next year.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the Historic Area designation would not come into force for the district until the plan was fully adopted next year.

But he added that the community could share ideas about what they believe could be done with it.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, speaks on the creation of the Draft North East Hamilton Local Plan 2021 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Roban said: “Any effort to have responsible use of that property will be welcomed by all concerned, particularly the residents and anyone who has an interest in the future of the property.

“The Government has no different interests from anybody else – we want to see a responsible use of the property in whatever form that takes in the future.”

Mr Roban said he could not comment on what he thought should happen to Wantley House - which the Bermuda Housing Corporation wants to demolish - because of his involvement with the planning process.

The BHC has submitted an application for the demolition of the historic building. As planning minister, Mr Roban may eventually hear an appeal on the decision of the Development Applications Board.

But he added that part of Hamilton north of Dundonald Street was “what’s left of old Hamilton from before the building boom”.

He added: “That area will get special attention and case with the forward plans within the local plan.

“Its preservation and its upkeep is integral to the plan itself – that’s in general for that whole area, where Wantley and other properties do exist.”

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, speaks on the creation of the Draft North East Hamilton Local Plan 2021 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Roban was speaking after he announced the creation of the Draft North East Hamilton Local Plan 2021.

The plan is aimed at encouraging development in the area while preserving its character and what is important to the community.

Mr Roban said the public would later have the opportunity to propose development plans for available sites and that they would be weighed against residential, historical and cultural concerns outlined in the plan.

Submissions may need to include statements on the design of the proposal and its impacts on the environment and traffic.

Mr Roban said: “Presently in Bermuda, the public's perception of the Department of Planning is that it performs a purely regulatory function – however, it is my view that planning as a discipline should be more aspirational.

“I hope that, by having a strategic section of the Plan that proactively encourages forms of development that benefit the local community, we can change those perceptions and allow for a greater understanding of the positive impacts the systems of planning can have.”

Victoria Pereira, the director of the Department of Planning, stressed the plan was not in operation at this point and no applications could be assessed until the plan was finalised.

She added: “Of course we have a lot of consultation that will occur between now and when that period of time happens.”

The official consultation period will take place between August 2 and October 8.

Those who wish to take part in a live virtual presentation of the plan should e-mail nehconsultation@gov.bm.

For more information, visit the Department of Planning’s website at https://planning.gov.bm.

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Published July 06, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated July 05, 2021 at 9:08 pm)

Under threat Wantley singled out for protection in draft plan

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