Southlands and SDOs

The resident Marxist over at Limey Land, Jonathon Starling, found a promotional video for the proposed Southlands development.

The video reveals the true extent of the development. It's a pretty well put together promo-spot, but what I couldn't help but notice is that they are selling the development on the beauty of the land, but then have designs for a massive beachfront glass and concrete structure which will eliminate any of that natural beauty.

This issue is a complex one.

I am very concerned on a larger scale, about the overheating of the construction industry, if all of these 5 developments were to come to fruition simultaneously, and that's not to even mention a (budgeted) 3/4 of a billion dollar hospital replacement and a new causeway, the economy, wages, rents etc. would skyrocket.

So that's one concern, which is broader than this specific development.

I'm also concerned about the increased use of Special Development Orders to circumvent planning laws. While the inefficiency of the planning department is an issue, SDO's aren't the solution. The solution is streamlining the planning process while enforcing the existing regulations. If the PLP Government feels that the current zoning laws need to be amended, then do that legislatively and engage the public on it, but don't just sidestep it all with SDOs.

Now, with respect to the specific developments and SDOs:

I'm less concerned about the request for an SDO with the proposed city hotel, to facilitate a higher structure, as that will be built in an urban area which is already built up.

I am however concerned that the Southlands development essentially proposes to concrete in a massive area of protected woodland. I certainly have no problem with the developers developing their land, as is their right to achieve a return on their investment (and help improve our tourism product), however it should be done under current zoning laws, the laws that applied when the property was purchased.

The loss of open space is a loss, that is indisputable. And while I do like the idea of Government purchasing the property as a park/nature reserve (as proposed by the UBP), I think that is unlikley.

Blocking development is also unappealing, as that essentially nationalises private property, which I can't support.

But it seems to me that a hotel can be developed on site which is much more integrated with the surrounding environment, and doesn't tear to shreds and fill with concrete a very scenic and environmentally sensitive stretch of South Shore.

And finally, I feel compelled to point out the hypocrisy of allowing the Southside (and other) developers to build homes for sales to foreigners, after this Government retroactively removed the right of Bermudians with eligible high-end properties to sell to non-Bermudians - dramatically devaluing their asset over night.

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