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Owners submit Riddell’s Bay development plan

Riddell’s Bay Golf Club (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The owners of the former Riddell’s Bay Golf Course have applied to break up the land into 22 lots.

A subdivision application, submitted to the Department of Planning by Castile Holdings earlier this month, proposed the creation of new lots on the recreation-zoned land as part of a plan to create luxury homes.

The proposed subdivision at the Warwick site would create seven homes on the western side of the land, nine on the eastern edge and another two on the southeast side.

The centre of the property would remain undeveloped with four lots made up of 14 acres of open space, 12 acres of open-space woodland, 18 acres of nature reserve and 22 acres of land zoned for recreational use.

The master plan for the project said Riddell’s Bay Gardens and Nature Reserve will “create a unique and unprecedented model of conservation management in Bermuda”.

The document said: “The Riddell’s Bay project aims to reconvert and rehabilitate more than 66 acres of land, formerly occupied by a bankrupt golf course.

“More than 38 acres will benefit from increased conservation zoning in areas identified as having prime ecological value. The financing to maintain and convert this extensive area into a combination of nature reserve, open space and recreational space will be entirely private and funded through the addition of low impact residential lots.

“In addition to restoring a once heavily treated area of open space, the proposal will allow for limited public access.”

A report from Bermuda Environmental Consulting said 51 per cent of the property would be a combination of coastal reserve, nature reserve and open space, with another 22 per cent retained as recreational land.

The report added: “Private funding for the initiative will be achieved through the sale of three existing lots, plus the creation and sale of 18 new, low-density recreational lots through an endowment, to be set up through those sales coupled with monthly homeowners association fees.”

Residential lots will cover 23 acres, or 24.5 per cent of the site.

The report said that the proposal, if approved, would reduce the amount of recreational land, but that the remainder of the land would receive greater use.

It added: “As there is no current formal recreational use installed on the land, this change in zoning does not impact any user group or functionality, but primarily impacts the zoning pattern as articulated in the Draft 2018 Bermuda Plan.

“In fact, public access will be enhanced and neighbourhood access will be formalised and both these groups will be able to utilise the site for passive recreation, thereby increasing the recreational functionality of the site over the current baseline.

“Therefore, though reduced in size, any material perception of loss of recreational-use lands is not expected given that 66 acres will, for the first time, be available for passive open-space activities by the area community.”

The report said there had been consultation with residents and environmental groups, such as the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, and some changes to the plan had been made as a result.

It said one lot that had been earmarked for residential development was included in the nature reserve after David Wingate, a veteran conservationist, said it was “critical” to do so.

Riddell’s Bay, Bermuda’s oldest course, closed in March 2016 after nearly a century because the club could not meet its operational costs.

The Royal Gazette revealed later that year that a group of island-based investors had banded together to buy the golf course and planned to create a conservation zone with a limited amount of land used for residential lots on “the outer fringes” of the area.

The subdivision application can be seen at the Department of Planning offices in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on Court Street, Hamilton.