New Planning law to ease the way
The Shetty hospital developers have finalised their initial purchase of land in East End and intend to apply for a mixed-use planned area development for the site.
Gene Thompson, the local partner in the project to build a 2,000-bed medical tourism hospital, said late last week that the purchase of land for the hospital in High Rock from Joseph Imparato, who will be a co-developer in the project, had been finalised.
“This is a large step forward for the project,” Mr. Thompson said. “We are beginning our survey work as well as the initial mechanical design work, which will include energy-efficient technology throughout.”
The developers announced two months ago that a land purchase deal had been arranged with Mr. Imparato, who had earlier said he wanted it to be the site for a sea port.
In a 24 November news release, the developers said the project, officially called the Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre, has initially “acquired a portion of Mr. Imparato’s property with an option to purchase more as needs demand”. Local spokesman for the project, David Legge, said the developers did not wish to disclose how much of the 600 acres had been bought. The release said Mr. Imparato, along with Dr. Shetty’s team, will serve as a co-developer of the overall site and that Mr. Imparato’s company, City Services (Cayman) Ltd., would work with Dr. Devi Shetty’s group “on site preparation and the long-term development of the project”.
Mr. Imparato said his company would not construct the buildings in the medical complex, but would help develop support facilities, such as hotels and residential accommodations.
“City Services is working closely with Dr. Shetty’s Cayman team on a master plan for the project to ensure an integrated, attractive, and well-coordinated healthcare community,” he said.
Health Minister Mark Scotland told the Caymanian Compass last week that the developers of the project intended to submit a mixed-use planned area development application, which applies for mixed usage of the land, thereby negating the need to apply for rezoning permits. “If they did rezoning, it would take up to a year,” Mr. Scotland said.
Under the Planning Law, which was amended last year, planned area developments are master planned developments of large tracts of land that are at least 40 acres in size and provide for a mix of land uses, densities and open space. Planned area developments may be considered when a proposed master plan is submitted to the Central Planning Authority for approval.
This new planning application category eases the way for large developments that want to incorporate retail, commercial and residential, along with other uses, into their projects.
The Shetty “health city”, which the developers said would be built in phases over the next 15 years, will include a hospital, assisted-living homes, a biotech research centre and a medical education facility.
Mr. Scotland told attendees of the Healthcare 20/20 Conference held in Cayman last week: “The group has made the land purchase and I believe that the planning application for the project should be submitted in another few months.
“On the discussions I have had with them, it’s estimated within three to six months, they would be able to commence the project.”
Mr. Thompson confirmed the group had not yet submitted a planning application, but was working on a planned area development application.
A planned area development involves a mixture of at least three different land uses, with up to 5 per cent of gross land area designated as open space to serve the development. Such developments must also provide an internal circulation network to minimises conflicts with existing public roads.
Planned area developments are permissible in all areas of the Cayman Islands and in all zones, except industrial, public open space and mangrove buffers.
In April 2010, the government and Indian heart surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty announced plans for the establishment of what would become a 2,000-bed hospital, along with a medical school and an assisted living facility for retirees.
Dr. Shetty and the government signed an agreement at the time that included a 12-month deadline for the government to meet certain obligations, including the granting of building permits, planning approvals and various duty concessions as well as the passage of new and amended laws. In April this year, Cabinet extended that agreement.
Two months ago, the Shetty group announced it had bought 600 acres of land in High Rock, East End for the hospital, which is officially known as Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre. The land had been originally touted by its owner, Mr. Imparato, as a site for a sea port.
The developers have announced the project will be built in phases, the first of which involves a 150-bed hospital that will provide tertiary care currently unavailable in Cayman, including open-heart surgery, cancer treatments, bone marrow transplants and organ transplants. Before Dr. Shetty would move ahead with the establishment of the hospital, the Cayman Islands government was required to amend or draw up several pieces of legislation, including the Health Practice Law, which enables medical staff trained in India and other overseas countries to practise in Cayman; the Tax Concessions (Amendment) Law, which exempts companies from potential future taxes; and the Medical Negligence (Non-Economic Damages) (Amendment) Law, which caps pain and suffering damages awarded in medical malpractice cases to $500,000.
A final piece of legislation, which would allow human organ and tissue donations and transplants to be done in Cayman, has not yet been finalised.