Hotel launches appeal on retrospective planning refusal
The developers behind a new hotel project have launched an appeal after an after-the-fact planning application was rejected weeks before the scheduled opening.
The retrospective application by Hotelco, the firm behind the St Regis resort in St George’s, was refused at the Development Applications Board meeting on Wednesday - but an appeal was submitted the same day.
The hotel is scheduled to welcome its first guests on May 22.
The developers applied for retrospective planning approval for several changes last month.
But they said in the application that they expected a refusal and asked for the process be dealt with quickly so they could lodge an appeal with the Minister of Home Affairs.
The minutes of the DAB’s April 28 meeting reported that technical officials said the project was “subject to a self-inspection process” by the developer and the retroactive works were identified during a site visit by the acting building control officer in March.
The developer was warned that the revisions should be identified and an application made as soon as possible.
The DAB agreed to waive the advertising requirement for the application to speed the process.
The minutes said: “Technical officers advised that this is considered to be a project of national significance, there would be significant financial implications should the project be delayed and, given the minor nature of the majority of the proposed revisions, any objections would be likely to be limited to the revised service access which is currently being assessed by the highways section of the Ministry of Works & Engineering.”
The minutes of the DAB’s May 5 meeting said: “The applicant has failed to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board that they were not responsible for the breach of planning control or that, at the time the development was being so carried out, did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the development was in breach of planning control.”
An application, submitted to the Development Applications Board last month for Hotelco, highlighted a range of changes from designs approved earlier.
A letter from OBMI, a design firm, added that in the “deliberate speed” to reach the deadline, actions were taken to improve the development which were different from what had been approved by planners.
The application admitted that one of the changes – a repositioning of the “back of house” driveway linking the property to Barry Road – could not be approved by the DAB.
The letter said: “Hotelco’s following action would be to appeal to the Minister for his adjudication and assent.”
Other changes included the relocation of a pool bar, a new golf cart parking area, the removal of several windows and the extension of a beach retaining wall.
The application said that the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Services and the Department of Health had toured the site and were satisfied that it was ready for operation.
But it added that, without approvals, the developer would not be able to get its hotel operating licence, elevator licence or liquor licence.