"The footprint for another major tourism project on the West Coast is being cleared, and persons associated with the project say it's a clear sign of investor confidence returning to the island.
The project, which planning consultant Richard Gill, noted involves "mega bucks", is being undertaken by British investors at Batts Rock on the St. James/St. Michael border of Highway One.
Today heavy duty equipment from C.O. Williams Construction was being used to prepare the site, while workmen from another operation were clearing brush and pruning trees in the heavily wooded area, a stone's throw away from the popular picnic spot and the multi-million dollar Four Seasons Hotel project on which construction is expected to resume next month. Gill explained the "outline permission" had already been given by the Town and Country Planning Department, but that certain works had to be completed before final plans were submitted to the department.
These preliminary works will involve major changes to the access to the popular picnic spot, with a new vehicular access, equipped with appropriate sidewalks, being constructed from Highway One in the area of Walmer Lodge Apartments. Additionally, a new footpath will be built from an area close to the existing entrance to Batts Rock at Prospect, and travel along the cliff edge and down to the beach. Gill explained that this would take on the style of a boardwalk, would be well lit and landscaped, and guarantee resident a continuous access, not just to the beach, but the comfort of enjoying the ocean view from the hilltop. Only when these two accesses are completed, the engineer said, would the developer close the existing entrance start to push ahead with the main project, which would involve the construction of no fewer than 20 luxury condos and related facilities.
He explained that while they had broad permission from Town Planning for the project, specific plans now had to be completed. He noted too that the outline plan spoke to a number of four-storey buildings, but even that was still to be finalised. "What I can say to you is that we are dealing with investors who have been coming to Barbados annually for many years and who understand and appreciate how Barbadians feel about the beach and access to it," Gill said. "That's why they took the position from the very start that the project would be set back from the cliff and that Barbadians would continue to have unhindered access to the cliff and the beach. This project will be a win-win situation for Barbados. These people are totally committed to Barbados."
The developers, he added, would also be making a small portion of land beside the National Conservation Commission's children's play park available so it can enhance the facility. Gill noted too that while getting all the necessary permissions had not gone as fast as anticipated, the developers understood fully the desire of authorities to ensure everything was done correctly, but their desire to push ahead was a sign of confidence in the country. He said too he believed that now that the Four Seasons project was resuming, Barbados would see a pick up in development activity. And while Gill could not say what the price tag on the project was, noting only that it involved "mega bucks", one neighbour said her family had been approached by the developer about two years ago to sell their plot for over a million dollars.
"We don't have any problem with the project, but we like it here so we declined," said Sheila Layne, who has lived at Walmer Lodge for more than 60 years, adding that a "Mr. Simon" had spoken to them about his plan to proceed with the project as recently as two weeks ago."
Source: Barbados Today 12/08/10