Plans for conservation zone at Riddell’s Bay
Redevelopment plans for the former Riddell’s Bay Golf Course will create Bermuda’s biggest conservation zone, one of the property’s owners has said.
The businessman said the area would be combined with “very low-density residential areas, but the plan would set a new benchmark for Bermuda in sustainable development”.
The man, who asked not to be named, added: “When completed, Bermuda will have a new reforested 66-acre conservation zone larger than any existing park or protected space on the island, including Spittal Pond, the Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum.
“This is a unique opportunity to undertake an unprecedented once-in-a-lifetime conservation project for the benefit of all Bermudians.”
He added that the project was drawn up in consultation with the island’s “leading environmentalists” and “highly respected landscape architects”.
He was speaking as a petition launched by the Riddell’s Bay Members’ Committee to protect the property passed 700 signatures — although these included Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Fidel Castro, the late prime minister of Cuba.
The committee has raised concerns over an application to subdivide the golf course into two plots of land.
The group claimed the move will lead to “at least” 42 acres of recreational land being turned into residential property.
A statement said: “Words and descriptions appear to be purposely confusing and buried in the details of their planning applications.
“No further explanations of their motives have been given, other than their initial presentations to residents more than a year ago, which clearly showed at least 17 acres of waterfront lots marked to be sold off, in addition to selling the clubhouse — a protected, historical landmark building.”
The group also raised fears that, if allowed, the move would create a legal precedent allowing other recreational areas to be built on.
The statement added: “Bermuda does not need any more houses, nor does it need any more concrete, tarmac, waste, trash or overusage. We need open, green, recreational land now more than ever.”
The committee identified the golf course’s owner as Castile Holding/Equilibria Capital.
The representative of the owners’ group said that was wrong.
He added: “This is false and, once again, misleading the public as there is no fund management business that owns Riddell’s Bay. “The property has been purchased by a small group of Bermudians whose primary objective is to preserve the land for conservation purposes. The owners are not developers.”
He added that the petition had “limited” support from the general public and area residents.
He said: “Moreover, many of those that have signed it have done so based on materially misleading information.
“The promoters of the petition have not seen the owner’s plans for the property and are therefore basing their claims on no substantial information.”
The businessman said that the course’s status as recreational-only land provided “limited protection to the land, the flora and the fauna”.
He added: “If the land remains zoned recreational, it could potentially allow for the building of, among others, a hotel, a casino and/or sporting facilities.
“This conservation zone will be open to the public and will benefit all Bermudians rather than the select few members of an exclusive private golf club.”
He said the conservation zone would be privately funded and maintained, “meaning that the Bermudian taxpayers will not have to foot the bill for its ongoing maintenance”.
The Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club closed in 2016 after nearly a century in business.
Residents in the area were told later that year the purchaser planned to rezone a portion of the property for residential development.
However, the proposal also included using the majority of the property as a conservation or green zone, with provision for a 50-acre nature reserve.