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Government unveils plan to help revitalise St David’s

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A central “neighbourhood commercial centre” and new housing for seniors at Burrows Hill are among “opportunity sites” to revitalise St David’s, a community plan has revealed.

Residents want rid of the unsightly “boat graveyard” at Ship’s Wharf, where a proposal to relocate Hamilton’s docks is “currently being discussed”, according to the Draft St David’s Community Plan.

The Bermuda Land Development Company’s bid to move the container port from the island’s capital to the East End dates back to at least 1997, two years after the former US Base at Southside shut down.

The new community plan listed a string of ideas pitched over the years for Ship’s Wharf, ranging from a “marina village” in 2008 to an energy plant in 2018.

The site has 33 tenants renting land or building space, and 15 water trucker-spigots – but is highlighted as “rather desolate”.

The wharf, off St David’s Road and alongside St George’s Harbour, comes with a marina at Higgs Bay that remains out of commission from hurricane damage.

The plan states: “A request for proposal has recently been issued to redevelop and reopen Higgs Marina.”

The document, issued yesterday by theBLDC with the Department of Planning, proposes a partial rezoning of industrial land at the wharf to mixed use, for “a greater variety of future development options for this prime waterfront site”.

Asked about moving the island’s main docks to Ship’s Wharf, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said: “Those discussions are still ongoing, but no decision has been made.”

Eight months in the making, the plan lists nine sites in St David’s with residential development potential – with a combined 20 acres potentially catering to up to 400 new residences.

Prominent in the plan is a supermarket for the area, which stood out in consultation as top of the wish list for St David’s islanders.

A survey last year showed high demand for a grocery store close to White’s – the Southside supermarket that went out of business in 2012 when the White & Sons chain collapsed.

The closure also cost St David’s its pharmacy and ATM service.

The plan, which aims to develop a “focal point” for the community in St David’s, envisages “a place which is used by people every day for shopping, dining and meeting up”.

The public was invited to visit the BLDC offices at Southside to learn more about the plan and provide feedback.

Walter Roban, home affairs minister, left, presents the St David’s Community Plan with Andrew Dias, interim chief executive of the Bermuda Land Development Company; Tinée Furbert, MP for St George’s South; Julie Marshall, senior planning officer; Lovitta Foggo, chairwoman of the BLDC, and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Lovitta Foggo, MP for St David’s and chairwoman of the BLDC, invited the community to learn more between 9am and 4pm at the BLDC headquarters in Southside up until September 2.

“Copies of the draft plan will be available to read, and members of staff will be on hand to answer any questions,” she added.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the release marked the first community plan on the island, highlighting what residents enjoyed as well as improvements they wished to see.

“As such, the plan does not showcase conceptual developments, but is the foundation on which current and future initiatives should be based,” he said.

The public would be welcome to “add, change or amend the plan” if they wished – and Mr Roban said other areas of the island could contribute to similar their own community plans, which were “a cornerstone of the 2018 Bermuda Plan”.

Colonel Burch said ongoing works to revamp water and wastewater infrastructure at the East End were headed for completion by the year’s end.

He said the finish line would “enable the St George’s sewerage outfall to be closed – a significant improvement for the entire country”.

Colonel Burch said the community plan explored “St David’s strengths as well as recommendations for improvement”, and noted the “overwhelming desire for a new grocery store”.

He highlighted improvements to St David’s with the removal of obsolete military-era fencing and the targeting of illegal dumping areas.

St David’s, which covers 1,312 acres with a population of 2,349, come with open land that could be developed for seniors’ housing at Burrows Hill, the community plan states.

The site is also described as promising for care services, with the adjacent Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Unit.

Other features of the plan include a proposed rezoning of Kindley Field Park into a nature reserve, for mangrove planting near the Swing Bridge.

The coastline in central Smith’s Island is suggested for conversion from rural to coastal reserve, while Westcott Road and Glory Temple Church could switch from open space to residential.

The plan highlights a range of large-scale proposals for St David’s put forward over the last 15 years.

It states: “An alternative approach to the major redevelopment scheme/master plan approach is the ‘lighter, quicker, cheaper’ approach to economic renewal which involves simpler, shorter-term, lower risk, lower cost solutions to revitalising run down and underutilised spaces in imaginative and cost effective ways, and which reflect the place and the needs of the community.”

The area comes with “acres of run down and underutilised land, and a lack of basic community services for its residents”.

· To see the plan and its background along with ministers’ statements, click on the PDFs under “Related Media”.

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Published August 25, 2022 at 7:45 am (Updated August 25, 2022 at 7:46 am)

Government unveils plan to help revitalise St David’s

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