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Group raises series of concerns over Bermudiana Beach plans

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The Bermudiana Beach Resort on South Shore in Warwick (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Proposed improvements for the Bermudiana Beach Resort in Warwick have sparked an objection from an environmental charity.

A letter of objection from the Bermuda Audubon Society raised a number of concerns about the project, particularly new buildings proposed on the western edge of the property.

The letter states that while the site is zoned for tourism use, there is also an overlying conservation area of Woodland Reserve along the northern and southern sides.

Two buildings and part of a third have already been built, but the proposal includes further development in the area.

The objection letter added that the new proposed structures infringe on required setbacks, with an event support building and wastewater treatment plant proposed to be built “right on the lot line”.

The letter also said the location raises concerns about the future of the neighbouring Southlands estate, a national park.

Plans which proposed turning the southeastern section of Southlands into a parking and event space for the hotel were previously rejected, but the new application includes a path and connection gate to an event lawn on Southlands.

“Not only have they provided for a gate and pathway, but they also intend to construct an entire Event Support Building with catering facilities and restrooms immediately adjacent to the Park,” the letter said.

“A prior application for an event lawn at Southlands was refused with strong objection by the Parks Commission.

“It is quite worrisome and perhaps inappropriate for the Bermuda Housing Corporation to assume that such an event lawn will be approved in the future. There is no justification for placement of these facilities in this location at this time.”

The objection letter raised further concerns about the density and visual impact of the expanded project.

“South Road provides beautiful views and vistas for tourists and unfortunately the Bermudiana Beach Resort is a physically imposing development right on the roadside,” the letter said.

“This has been slowly improving with the growth of an oleander hedge. Adding additional structures right along the roadside will be a step backward in this improvement.”

The charity also voiced concerns about what impact the project would have on a nearby cliff face.

While the proposal scrapped a previously planned funicular, the new plans include a set of stairs and an elevator leading from the hotel to the beachfront.

The letter said: “It is not clear from the plans, but it looks as if a portion of the cliff face will be excavated to allow for the elevator and the stairs to be built.

“The plans do not contain any engineering reports to document how this will be done in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner.”

The charity raised similar concerns about the proximity of a proposed pool and pool deck to the cliff.

“It appears that the deck will go up to the edge of the cliff face with a glass railing,” the letter said. “The pool itself may be less than 8ft from the edge.

“This is a cliff that has been under significant erosion pressure and given the impacts of climate change and the expectation for sea level rise and increased storm action, this pressure will only increase.

“Measures should be put in place that would ensure that the pool, pool deck and railings will not put the cliff at further risk.”

The Bermudiana Beach Resort is expected to welcome its first guests next March.

Plans to renovate the site were earlier approved, but David Burt, the Premier, announced earlier this year that new plans would be drawn up with the backing of the Hilton hotel franchise.

Contractor BCM started work on the resort after a loan backed by a $10 million government guarantee was approved in June 2021.

But the Bermudiana Development Company dropped its development partners MacLellan & Associates, CBE Holdings and Bermuda Realty in September last year.

Mr Burt said the resort developer had hired engineering firm Brunel Limited, a Bermudian company involved in several major hotel projects, and Miami-based RAD Architecture, a hotel specialist.

Bermudiana Beach Resort plans

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Published April 22, 2022 at 9:35 am (Updated April 22, 2022 at 9:35 am)

Group raises series of concerns over Bermudiana Beach plans

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