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Timeline angers groups opposed to Fairmont Southampton plan

Say it isn’t so: anti-development protesters gathered outside the Cabinet Office this year (File photograph)

Environmental groups opposed to the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton hotel have cried foul over a government timeline to file objections.

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce and the Bermuda National Trust have questioned why they have been given only two weeks to review an 800-page dossier of fresh plans and architectural drawings, submitted by developer Westend Properties immediately before the Cup Match holiday.

Plans were originally submitted at the beginning of April, prompting a wave of protests from campaigners who claimed that the development would destroy the island’s natural habitat.

And in a surprise turnaround last month, Westend — owned by Gencom — agreed to scale back the project, reducing the six-storey suites to buildings of either two or three storeys.

The revised plans — which do little to limit the footprint of the rebuild — were submitted to the Department of Planning on July 27.

Both BEST and the BNT have asked for additional time to review the documents, claiming that they have been given little time to check over the new plans.

In a statement last night, Kim Smith, the president of BEST, said that while the number of pages filed by the developers has increased dramatically, the company had been granted only a few extra days to review the additions.

Ms Smith said that the revised SDO, which is now more than 800 pages of documentation, had resulted in only a slight increase in the time for that review, until August 18.

“The revised SDO was gazetted on July 27, and only the minimum two-week review period was being applied, meaning that the objection period was initially due to end on August 10. We asked for the review period to be extended to six weeks, giving a deadline date of September 7.

“The minister responded by giving just over three weeks to review over 800 pages of documents, giving a new deadline date of August 18. We appealed again for at least four weeks, which would have given a deadline date of August 25, but he did not grant that request.

“Therefore, we all only have until Friday, August 18 to review 800 pages of documents related to a very important application. Needless to say, we are disappointed that the many people who are off-island or who are about to travel will have to shoulder the extra pressure to meet what we consider to be an inadequate deadline of August 18.

“The letter, sent out on July 26 to all who submitted objections to the original SDO, made it clear that their objections to the original proposal will stand, but we urge original objectors to respond to the revised plans, too.

“Nonetheless, the letter from the minister about the extension of time is worded as if this is being regarded as a new application, so it seems as if they will also be accepting new objections and we should urge those who did not object originally to do so now if they wish.

“It is understood that the 115 letters of objection submitted to the original 2023 Request for a Special Development Order in late May 2023 remain as legitimate objections to the revised application and we encourage objectors to the revised proposal to also get their comments, concerns or objections into the Department of Planning by August 18.”

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Published August 10, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated August 10, 2023 at 10:35 am)

Timeline angers groups opposed to Fairmont Southampton plan

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