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No word on Fairmont SDO until planning department back online

The Fairmont Southampton (File photograph)

Any decision reached by the Development Applications Board on the request for a special development order for the Fairmont Southampton hotel will remain under wraps until the Department of Planning goes back online, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The department’s site was knocked out last Thursday by a cyberattack targeting the Government — and remained out of commission last night.

All government departments were either disabled by the attack or shut down to contain damage — with David Burt, the Premier, stating on Monday that a timeline for a safe and secure IT recovery would be given to the public.

However, more than a week on from the DAB meeting to examine the SDO, the ministry told The Royal Gazette that its findings would be “communicated to the public once the Department of Planning’s system comes back online”.

No timeline for the system coming back on line was given.

The Gazette has also contacted some members of the DAB who declined to reveal what the decision was.

The DAB meeting on the development proposed by Westend Properties, owners of the resort, followed a report from the Department of Planning recommending that the Minister of Home Affairs “does not proceed” with an SDO request to add up to 250 tourism and residential units at the resort.

The Government has repeatedly described reopening the resort as essential for the recovery of Bermuda tourism after the industry ground to a halt because of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

However environmental groups and private citizens have come out against the proposal, which calls for a maximum 250 unit “tourism/residential development” within two to four-storey buildings, including modifications to the golf course surrounding the hotel.

The planning report given to the DAB this month deemed the proposal to be “in direct conflict with the strategies, goals and objectives of the Bermuda Plan 2018”.

Planning called the site proposal “an unsustainable form of development which would result in several adverse environmental effects, which the applicant has failed to demonstrate can or would be satisfactorily mitigated, whilst failing to commit to enhancements of beneficial effects”.

The department’s report said Westend had “failed to demonstrate a need for the proposed development”, or that the scale of the proposal could be accommodated by the Fairmont site.

That report subsequently went up the ladder to the DAB, which was scheduled to consider it on September 20, and has been tasked with reaching its own decisions before Mr Roban either approves or rejects the SDO.

The report states: “This submission is being presented to the board to ascertain whether the board is in agreement with the contents of this report and, ultimately, to obtain a recommendation from the board as to whether the minister should make an SDO.”

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Published September 28, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated September 28, 2023 at 7:48 am)

No word on Fairmont SDO until planning department back online

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