Beach buildings can go higher

Changes part of planning revamp

Sweeping
changes to Cayman’s Development and Planning Law and regulations will mean that
developers along the Seven Mile Beach corridor on Grand Cayman can now build
structures up to 10 storeys.

The
previous height restriction was seven storeys.

Building
height allowances were also increased slightly in beach resort/residential
zones in other parts of Grand Cayman.

Maximum
height restrictions in general commercial zones will stay the same as they are
now; seven storeys in downtown George Town and five storeys elsewhere. 

Premier
McKeeva Bush told the Legislative Assembly late Monday that he realised there
could be some opposition to the move, but he said the need for economic
development was paramount.

“This
will give momentum to the renewal of some of the older properties on the beach,
allowing them to be renovated or rebuilt,” Mr. Bush said. “Given the way the
previous definition for building height has been interpreted, we do have some
buildings on the strip that seem to approach near that height at the moment.”

The
Development and Planning (Amendment)(No.2) Regulations, which were approved on
Monday, redefine how building height is measured so that the average finished
height of a development site is used, rather than the centreline of the road
the property abuts.

The
height change applies only to buildings in “Hotel/Tourism Zone 1” – that’s
basically Seven Mile Beach between West Bay Cemetery on the north and Dixie
Cemetery on the south.

In
that area only, the maximum height will increase to 10 storeys or 130 feet,
whichever one is taller. Currently, the regulations allow only seven storey
buildings or a maximum of 91 feet.

“These
changes do not apply to hotel/tourism zones throughout the island, but only to
the West Bay Road tourism belt,” Premier Bush said.

For
properties in areas zoned beach resort/residential, changes to the planning
regulations now allow buildings to reach up to 40 feet high, rather than 33
feet. The structures cannot extend above three storeys in those areas. Mr. Bush
said that change was made mainly to allow for larger floor areas inside of
beach resort homes.

“Modern
buildings need more space internally for higher ceilings, air-conditioning
equipment and structural beams,” he said.

Smaller lots, less parking

The
newly-approved regulations also allow for smaller lot sizes everywhere on Grand
Cayman. The minimum size of the lot will depend on whether the area is
considered high-density, medium-density or low-density for development
purposes.

Premier
Bush said government has long heard calls about the need to reduce minimum lot
size requirements, particularly in higher density areas where business
development has been limited due to lot size.

“Not
only will this help keep land affordable because it is cheaper to service smaller
lots, but it will also help make wiser use of our limited land area,” he said,
adding that subdivisions would cost less to develop with smaller lot
requirements.

In
high-density residential areas, minimum lot sizes will go from 6,500 square
feet to 5,000 square feet for houses and duplexes. For medium-density areas,
that requirement goes from 10,000 square feet to 7,500 square feet.

For
low-density areas, detached home property requirements will go from 12,500
square feet to 10,000 square feet; and duplexes will change from 13,500 square
feet to 12,500 square feet.

Although
minimum lot size requirements changed, site coverage and property setback
specifics remain the same under the revised regulations.

“Buildings
do not get any closer to each other,” Mr. Bush said.

The
revised planning regulations also allow for businesses to have less on-site
parking, particularly those in the central district of George Town.

“This
will activate the potential for additional growth within George Town and make
it again practical to develop some of the smaller parcels there,” Mr. Bush
said.

The
regulations now allow a business to locate up to half of its parking “off
site”; that’s within 500 feet of the commercial building in general commercial
zones. In central George Town, a full 100 per cent of the parking can be “off
site” or within 700 feet of the building. 

TOPBeachbuildingsSTORY

Seven Mile Beach overhead shots taken in June show developments along the corridor.
Photo: Brent Fuller
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12 COMMENTS

  1. This is not a good idea;the 7 MB area will end up looking like South Beach Miami, not a sleepy little Caribbean island!
    When we first started visiting Cayman (15+yrs ago) you could stand at the North end of 7MB and see nothing but greenery along the beach, no high rise….. now we are seeing ugly concrete buildings which are already far too high. Motivation quite simply money……….

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  2. This is progress, or rather, the price of progress: that is, if you define progress as material progression. Every succeeding generation thus hands the right – and obligation – to its preceding generation to point out that life becomes less pleasant, less kindly and less rewarding.
    For those who choose no longer to live in, or to visit Cayman, the bell has tolled.

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  3. Having visited the Bahamas last year and seen the mess that they have made of their beautiful beaches by building vile, gaudy hotels along them I do hope that Cayman will not fall into the same greedy trap! It is such a shame that old buildings get torn down like Beach Club which gave such character to Seven Mile Beach. Progress is great but think before you put such plans in place.

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  4. And as usual, no one has anything to say about this – the general population of the Cayman Islands don’t count in the eyes of our current politicians. What about the quality of life for those of us who make this our home – do we just go elsewhere?

    What a way to ruin an island – all in the name of (development) money.

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  5. this island is all but bust, has anyone looked at the houses that are for rent or attempted to sell one recently? build as much as you like in my humble, get permit fees, planning fees and any other income in that we can………lets get this island moving!

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  6. bruiser, you no doubt drive about in an suv from your 2500 sq ft air conditioned home and bemoan "progress", this island is hurting and wait until the gas price increases come into effect , that suv and that a/c bill will need paid for, whats your plan?

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  7. to lovechild, FYI I do not own an SUV but I do live on the beach and see it deteriorating every day. As for what I will do when development gets really bad is I will leave, as so many others are doing. I at least have that option, but lots don’t.

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  8. When we came to Cayman 25 years ago, the building height restriction was nothing taller than the highest palm tree. You could walk West Bay Road and see the beach and ocean. Now people don’t know it’s there withuot walking through or around a hotel.
    In your effort to turn the island into a big tourist city the inherent problems come with it, such as escalating crime. Add gambling to the mix and it regresses more quickly.
    We built a home here because Cayman had the highest literacy rate, lowest crime rate and government working with a surplus and no gambling in the Caribbean area. These attributes are being systematically destroyed.
    What useed to be "close enough to paradise", the pristine and beautiful Cayman will cease to exist.

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  9. interesting reading your comments people and strange that so many people disagree with my remarks, why don’t they qualify their thumbs down with a thought of their own or do their "rational" arguments not stack up?
    secondly reading the comments , they all seem to be from people that live in a time warp, do any of you people work or are you all retirees? it is hard out here in "wage land" and pristine empty beaches don’t support the growth that this island needs.
    we need work and the cash that comes with it.

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  10. If planning goes through for 10 storey buildings then it will be about eye level on the top floor with Mount Trashmore! Looking after our islands we are not!

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  11. Might not cutting government costs be one answer to the economic problem? Private companies have had to do it, as well as most of the financial industry.

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  12. In the name of progress and more private and business revenue, the flavor and feel of 7MB is waning. We fondly remember our first Cayman trip 20+ years ago…only the Holiday Inn, a few small and tasteful condos and no sidewalks yet! Crowding, congestion, greed and density will take away the pristine calmness of our favorite winter destination.

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Comments are closed.