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Victoria Hall indoor-farming retrofit gets in-principle nod

Victoria Hall (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A developer has been given in-principle approval to create an urban farm in an unused office building in the City of Hamilton.

Bermuda Vertical Technologies proposed internal modifications to the derelict seven-storey Victoria Hall to introduce vertical farming.

According to planning documents, approval for the plans was granted this summer with the recommendation of a delegated report.

The report writer said that the proposed change of use and internal conversion complied with the policies and objective of the 2015 City of Hamilton Plan.

“The applicant has laid out an appropriate plan, which includes a large production area on each floor for growing crops, distribution and packaging facilities and service entry for distributing goods,” the report said.

“As the application is solely for in-principle approval, the proposed change of use is compliant with the objectives and policies of the City Plan and will be a significant start in realigning Bermuda’s sustainable food production priorities.

“As such, it would also be a flagship for Bermuda’s future agricultural production.”

According to the plans, solar panels would be installed on the roof and southern face, the interior would be completely stripped to bare concrete, and new walls, plus floors and columns would be waterproofed.

Fixtures would then be assembled for growing, including air conditioning and other mechanical elements.

Colin Campbell, the businessman behind the plan, has said that he had retained Delphy, a global consultancy based in the Netherlands, to help advise on the project.

Mr Campbell said he would also have the business case reviewed by KPMG to “stress test” the plans before moving forward.

He said that if all goes to plan, the operation should be up and running within a year of the title transfer, with the farm bringing out product every week by the 15 to 18-month stage.

Non-conventional farming in vacant buildings was also one of several suggestions included in the consultative draft of the City of Hamilton Plan 2023 as a means of revitalising the City.

Victoria Hall made headlines in October 2018 when it was acquired by Arbitrade through an amalgamation with a local company, the Victoria Hall Company.

The building remained vacant, and by 2020, the company said it was considering its options.

Last year, allegations of fraud were levelled and legal actions linked to the company were initiated in the United States and Canada.

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Published August 28, 2023 at 7:52 am (Updated August 28, 2023 at 7:51 am)

Victoria Hall indoor-farming retrofit gets in-principle nod

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