Plans for reborn Ariel Sands opposed by neighbour and criticised by Audubon Society
Plans to redevelop a resort co-owned by Hollywood superstar Michael Douglas have sparked objections from neighbours.
An objection letter sent on behalf of the Palm Grove Trust, which owns 38 South Road near the Devonshire property, said that the proposals had “jettisoned” the original concept of a cottage colony.
The letter said: “It is important to promote the regeneration of the tourism sector and the objectors fully support that ambition.”
But it added: “It is also important, though, to preserve and maintain those qualities that are uniquely Bermudian and that set the island aside as a special place that people wish to visit.
“There is a serious risk that proposals such as this at Ariel Sands will result in further erosion of the attraction of Bermuda.”
The letter said the plan amounted to an “intensive housing development with an attached small hotel” with 40 per cent higher occupancy figures than plans approved earlier.
It was revealed last November that Mr Douglas, the son of Bermudian actress and model Diana Dill and Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, had teamed up with Slovakian real estate developer JTRE to turn the 13.8 acre site into a five-star resort.
The Palm Grove Trust also criticised the inclusion of a five-storey condominium building, which they said would restrict the views of residents in the area and people who drove along South Road.
The letter admitted: “It is true that a five-storey building was approved in this location in the previous scheme.”
But it said: “At least that building was a bona fide hotel. The condominium building in the current scheme is essentially a residential structure.”
The trust also criticised the design of the proposed buildings and the development’s impact on traffic.
It added that increased use of the beach area could affect marine life, including West Indian top shell sea snails.
The trust insisted that the proposals, if approved, would affect neighbouring areas – whether developed or undeveloped.
The letter said: “The hotel building in particular will have a profound detrimental effect on the property to the east.
“The four-storey structure is proposed to be constructed in close proximity to the eastern boundary of the hotel site. It was presumably considered acceptable to do this as there are currently no houses immediately adjacent.
“However, the absence of built structures should not be interpreted as there never will be any development.
“There is, in fact, potential for development in an area zoned residential 2 on the property to the immediate east of the proposed hotel.
“A building as large as the hotel constructed in the proposed location will negatively impact this potential for development to a great degree.”
The Bermuda Audubon Society also raised concerns about the proposal, including the use of a small plot of agricultural land for a tennis court.
The charity also questioned the visual impact of the condominium building and the number of parking spaces included in the plans.
The society said: “It does not seem that the 47 car parking spots and 20 cycle spots would be adequate given the number of units/beds and the need for parking for staff and patrons of the restaurant and spa.
“We are concerned that the need for additional parking would result in encroachment on the conservation areas of the property or the currently planned open spaces at a later date.
“This should be clearly resolved at this stage of the process.”
A spokesman said the redeveloped resort would be managed by an “internationally recognised operator, offering branded condominiums and luxury villas, and a multitude of desirable amenities”.
A planning application said the property would include a 33 room hotel and amenities, 21 villas spread throughout the site and a 30 key condominium development.
Ariel Sands opened as a hotel and cottage colony in 1954, but closed down in 2008.
The site was later cleared in anticipation of redevelopment and several plans were put forward, but none got off the ground.