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Housing Corporation appeals Southlands plan rejection

A controversial proposal to build a parking lot and events lawn at Southlands, which was rejected by the Development Applications Board, will go before Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs for consideration.

The DAB rejected the application last month and the Bermuda Housing Corporation formally submitted an appeal against the decision on April 26.

The application, submitted last year by the Bermuda Housing Corporation, proposed the creation of an events lawn on the southeastern portion of the park, which is next to the Bermudiana Beach Resort.

Planning documents described the lawn as “an integral component of hotel use”, while the included parking area would be accessible for the public to improve access to the park and beach.

The application stated: “Given that the hotel site was originally constructed for residential use only, various hotel function aspects could not be incorporated on the site, and this includes a formal outdoor events venue.

“The proposed events lawn is an integral component of the hotel use, while the parking area will be accessible to the public for accessing Southlands Park and Beach.

“Currently, all park and beachgoers park along South Road, creating safety issues in some instances.”

The proposal was nearly identical to a similar application for the site, which was rejected by the DAB in 2019. At that time, the National Parks Commission raised concerns about the application’s “excessive” size.

Both applications were fiercely opposed by environmental groups who argued that the proposal would compromise valuable parkland.

The DAB formally refused the proposal planning approval on several grounds, including that “insufficient and erroneous information” had been submitted, which did not allow the board to make a fully informed assessment of the proposal.

The DAB also stated that it did not have discretion to approve development within a Woodland Reserve Conservation Area and that the proposal was in conflict with the Bermuda Plan 2018, because the events lawn and associated development were not “essential” to the maintenance, conservation, enhancement or enjoyment of the park.

The board also cited the impact of the proposal on the natural and visual quality of the conservation area and the failure of the proposed vehicle access to meet minimum policy requirements.

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Published May 04, 2023 at 7:32 am (Updated May 04, 2023 at 7:32 am)

Housing Corporation appeals Southlands plan rejection

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