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Objections mount to Rosewood plan to convert pump house into tourist unit

An abandoned pump house near Shark Hole Hill. (Photograph from planning documents)

A proposal to build a new tourism unit on the coastline of Harrington Sound has sparked objections from environmental groups.

RWTP Hotels Ltd have sought planning permission to build a hotel cottage at the site of a former pump house at the base of Shark Hole Hill in Hamilton Parish.

The developer also sought approval for a conservation management plan to remove invasive species and support native plants in the surrounding coastline.

However, the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Audubon Society have all filed objections to prevent development on the coastal site.

In one letter of objection Best said the site was “highly inappropriate” for a tourism unit, noting its distance from the rest of the resort and zoning as coastal reserve.

Kim Smith of Best wrote: “Just because an architect was able to produce drawings on paper, does not mean that it works in practical terms.”

She said that the Tucker’s Point Special Development Order gave approval for more than 53 acres of development on otherwise protected land in an effort to support the resort, but questioned the actual benefit to the tourism industry.

“Much of that land was sold off as real estate by the resort and represented no gains in tourism for Bermuda, despite it being pitched as critically important to Bermuda’s tourism product,” she said.

“The importance of this one tourism key cannot be held up as significant in any way to this development and certainly not at the expense of our protective zoning policies.”

She also raised concerns about the impact of the proposal on traffic in the area, noting that the development is on the sharp corner of a busy road and at the bottom of a steep hill.

“We imagine it likely that guests using a tourism unit at this site are very likely to be non-Bermudian and so unfamiliar with the patterns of Bermuda’s traffic flow, making them extremely vulnerable as they navigate the entering and leaving, on foot or in a vehicle, by way of the proposed lay-by,” Ms Smith said.

“Without drama, this is an accident just waiting to happen.”

The concerns were echoed by the BNT, who said the proposal would have a negative impact on the area and voiced grave concerns about further development in a cave protection area.

Myles Darrell, head of natural heritage for the charity, added that the area should be archaeologically assessed for potential history of shipbuilding before any work is given the green light.

“Other coastal Bermuda sites have revealed that substantial archaeological evidence survives for shipbuilding activity, which has tremendous significance in the post-medieval development of the Atlantic world,” he said.

“The high likelihood of shipbuilding or other coastal sites being associated with enslavement in Bermuda further supports the need to ensure that there be no negative impacts to archaeological resources at this coastal site.”

Mr Darrell added that BNT believed the Tucker’s Point SDO had already granted the developer ample opportunity to make a return on investment and what remained of the island’s coastline should be protected.

Janice Hetzel of the BAS, meanwhile, said the proposal would “significantly diminish” ecological and scenic features of the shoreline.

“This was once a beautiful and isolated portion of the Harrington Sound coast that was enjoyed by many,” a spokeswoman said in a letter of objection.

“The Tucker’s Point SDO permitted nearby development that has diminished the natural amenity of the area. Allowing this additional insult will have a major detrimental impact.

“This is an inappropriate location for the construction of a guest cottage given the very narrow nature of this strip of land and its protection as coastal reserve. In addition, we are extremely concerned about the safety risk for access and egress to the property for the users of the property as well as passing traffic.”

The organisation said that while the application said the property would be used as a “hotel key”, they questioned what measures were in place to prevent them from selling it to a private owner once built.

“The Tucker’s Point SDO gave development rights to two properties that should have been given coastal reserve protections,” the objection added.

“If the intention was to allow further development of their holdings on the coast, then this property would have been included and it was not.”

Another objector, Jan Card, wrote that while they had no personal interest in the property or neighbouring properties, they felt the project would be harmful to the area.

“This route around Harrington Sound was actually much promoted as one of our ‘flower routes’ because of it’s beauty,” she said. “By a combination of development and neglect, all that can be seen now is either a construction site or impenetrable invasive vegetation.

“This is akin to the well known strategy of ‘demolition by neglect’. While the approvals process cannot be expected to directly address this situation it can and should refuse to reward it.”

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Published March 10, 2023 at 7:42 am (Updated March 10, 2023 at 7:42 am)

Objections mount to Rosewood plan to convert pump house into tourist unit

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