Environmental groups raise fears over new hotel plans
Environmental groups have raised concerns about plans for a hotel and retail development on Warwick’s South Shore.
The application, submitted by OBM on behalf of applicant George Grundmuellar, seeks in-principal approval for a branded 56-unit residential hotel on the lot immediately east of the Bermudiana Beach Resort, along with a large retail building.
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Audubon Society raised concerns about the project’s use of coastal reserve and proximity to an eroding cliff face.
The audubon society said: “The coastline in this area has been subject to significant erosion and ensuring the preservation and protection of this area must be a high priority.
“Risks such as this must be given careful consideration at the earliest planning stages. Unfortunately, we do not have strict policies regarding setback from the cliff edge.
“Given the impacts of climate change and the known susceptibility of this section of coast, we strongly suggest that all aspects of the development be required to keep a significant and safe distance from the cliff edge.
“We also believe that the request for any potential coastal protection measures should be assessed at this early stage.”
The charity also raised concerns about the size of the retail component of the project and the visual impact of the proposed four-storey residential hotel.
“This will be quite imposing visually from the roadway and the adjacent neighbourhoods,” the charity said.
“Consideration should be given to limiting the height and bulkiness of the structure. This impact may be ameliorated with extensive plantings around the property of sufficient depth to establish an effective and visually appealing buffer for the surrounding community.”
Given the size of the development and the nature of the site, the society called for a thorough environmental impact assessment before the project gets the green light.
A letter of objection from the Bermuda National Trust said: “The south shore of Bermuda is exposed to hurricane force winds that are set to increase in strength and frequency. This leaves the cliff very susceptible to erosion and potential collapse.
“For this reason, we are terribly concerned about development plans for the coastal section of this proposed plan.
“We are also concerned about the impact this much hardscape development will have on the character of the area. The proposed development includes a large market space for commercial enterprise that will provide for both visitors and locals alike.
“It is our feeling that development of this scale should be balanced by the preservation of as much green space as is possible in adjacent areas if it is to happen.”
The sustainability taskforce added in its letter of objection: “We all know that this stretch of the south shore is completely exposed to hurricane force winds and surf, with the cliff-front highly susceptible to erosion and even collapse.”
However, BEST noted the bulk of the project was on brownfield land and could potentially help to curb the need to develop other nearby sites such as Southlands.
“The proposed development is certainly extensive and clearly aims to provide amenities and products to nearby hotels and area residents,” the organisation said.
“We would like to think that it would also serve to eliminate the need for any further, significant level of additional development for miles either side of the site.
“We are thinking specifically that, if approved, this extensive development would mean that plans currently being considered for the southern side of the Southlands Park site could be reduced to exclude for any hard structures like a restaurant, keeping it more aesthetically natural, more in keeping with parkland.
“Similarly, for years there has been the empty building across the road that was to have been an Arnold’s supermarket and we trust that the future of this essentially abandoned building could be addressed in some way at this same time, as a way to start raising the overall level of the neighbourhood.”