This country’s Town and Country Planning Department has come in for scathing criticism from social activist and Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong who is charging that the integrity of that organisation is in question.
According to Comissiong, the manner in which the Town and Country Planning Department handled the permission process for the proposed Hyatt Hotel project in Bay Street and more recently the Blue Horizon Project in Worthing, Christ Church, shows glaring discrepancies that the organisation should be made to explain.
Comissiong was referring to the decision to award permission to the then proposed 15-storey Hyatt Hotel without requiring town hall meetings, something that is now required for the Blue Horizon Hotel, which is five storeys less. Comissiong still has a legal challenge lodged in the High Court to the permission signed off on by the then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Speaking at the town hall meeting at Accra Beach Hotel on Thursday night called to discuss the construction of the Blue Horizon Hotel, Comissiong made it clear that he was no fan of beachfront development, while noting his concerns with the perceived inconsistencies with the Town and Country Planning’s application process.
“My position should mean something for the Town and Country Planning Department. But I have to say that I have serious concerns about the integrity of a Town and Country Department that can come here tonight and say that a town hall meeting, such as this, is a necessary component for processing this application for planning permission for this hotel on the landside of the beach that is ten storeys high, when three years ago they gave permission to build a hotel on the beach of Barbados 15-storeys high without having a single town hall meeting,” said Comissiong.
He added, “To compound the issue they were prepared to go to court to say that they had done nothing wrong. So, I have serious concerns about the integrity of such a Town and Country Planning Department.”
The attorney-at-law challenged the entity to be transparent in the current processing of the Blue Horizon Hotel application, warning them not to take the public for a ride on this occasion.
“The Town and Country Planning Department needs to really tell this audience this exercise is part and parcel of an Environmental Impact Assessment that they have ordered the developers to do. If that is the case, they need to be very clear what are the studies that they have instructed the developers to carry out and how and when the result of those studies are going to be shared with the public of Barbados,” he said.
The CARICOM ambassador further noted, “We need to be serious. Don’t take us through some mock sport exercise with public relations people to tell us a lot of foolishness. Come with facts.”
Earlier, owner of Cheffette, Asad John Haloute, whose Rockley branch is in close proximity to the proposed project, revealed that he was denied permission for a beachfront satellite to his restaurant and it is therefore a case of what is good for the goose being good for the gander.
He made it clear, “If they put one there, I want one too.”