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Fairmont Southampton SDO gets its day before the board

Images of proposed placement of units in an application for a special development order for the Fairmont Southampton. Renderings intended for building massing and location study and do not represent finalised actual architectural design intent of units (Image courtesy of Fairmont Southampton revised master plan)

A controversial special development order for the Fairmont Southampton property is set to go before the Development Applications Board today.

The SDO, which would open the door for a 250-unit tourism and residential development, is one of two items included on the agenda for today’s meeting of the DAB.

A recent letter from the agency acting on behalf of the hotel’s owner said timelines for the project were “becoming critical” and requested the SDO go before the DAP “at the earliest opportunity”.

An SDO granted in 2009 gave planning permission in principle for 71 fractional tourism units, 37 residential villas and 22 town homes at the property. However, Westend Properties has sought a new SDO to raise capital.

An earlier SDO application was submitted in April — seeking approval for a maximum of 261 units — and an amended version followed in July, calling for 159 tourism and 91 residential units.

Peter Adwick, of Adwick Planning, wrote that the revised plan would translate to a 40 per cent increase in hotel bedrooms at the property, which would be a significant boost to hotel bed count on the island.

In a letter, he noted that the applicant accepted many details of its plan were yet to be “worked out” but pointed out that conditions could be attached to any SDO approval.

The original proposal prompted a backlash from environmental groups, which said they were “shocked” by the scale of the development.

Within two weeks, protesters presented a petition with more than 4,000 signatures, calling for the SDO to be rejected.

While the revised plan reduced the scale of the proposal, the Bermuda National Trust said the revisions “appeared to be tokenism” and would still result in overdevelopment at the site.

A Westend spokeswoman said the revisions were based on feedback and the developer believed that the new proposal would satisfy all parties.

In February, developers stated that ground was expected to be broken in the second quarter of this year and be completed towards the end of 2024 but Westend has since said the hotel was not expected to open until the summer of 2025.

The Government has backed the project as essential for restoring the island’s tourism product after the Fairmont Southampton closed its doors in 2020.

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Published September 20, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated September 20, 2023 at 7:55 am)

Fairmont Southampton SDO gets its day before the board

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