The Central Planning Authority has approved the first three planned area development applications relating to the Dr. Devi Shetty medical tourism project in East End.
The planning board considered the applications by City Services (Cayman) Ltd. and Health City Cayman Islands during its 23 January meeting. The minutes from that meeting have not yet been posted on the Department of Planning’s website, so details of the discussions are not yet available. However, the department’s eTRAKiT database indicates the board did “OK” the three master plans together covering more than 230 acres north of Sea View Road in Grand Cayman.
Health City sent out a news release Sunday announcing the approval of its two applications.
The US$2 billion project is scheduled to be built in phases over a 15-year period. The three applications are for land use, not for actual structures. Health City has lodged a separate application for the hospital building itself, which the planning board has not yet considered.
Camana Bay in East End
In the news release, Health City lauded the collaboration between the developers and the planning department.
“We are extremely pleased with the great reception and cooperation we received from the Planning Department, and other government agencies, on this pioneering project,” project director Gene Thompson said.
Nevertheless, according to the meeting agenda, government departments expressed major concerns about the hospital project that had not been resolved by the developers’ initial planning applications.
“Since permission will be valid forever, it is critically important that all facets of the PAD application be reviewed comprehensively and to ensure there is full compliance with the Development Plan, Law and Regulations,” the planning department said.
The area is originally zoned low-density residential and agriculture residential. “In essence, the provisions of the Development Statement replace the existing zoning in terms of regulating the built form within the PAD,” according to the planning department.
The three planned area developments “encompass 231 acres that will have the potential to create a community at a similar density and level of activity as Camana Bay’s Master Area, in a relatively undeveloped area of Grand Cayman with low level infrastructure. If the PADs are developed as anticipated, this area of the East End district will be transformed into a significantly more active urban hub,” according to the planning department.
Observing that the final development would impact not just East End, but potentially all of Grand Cayman, multiple departments requested that developers conduct further studies before being allowed to proceed with their plans. The Department of Environment asked for an environmental impact assessment. The National Roads Authority requested a traffic impact assessment and master storm water management plan for the overall project. Water Authority-Cayman requested an infrastructure impact assessment.
The planning department noted on each of the three applications, “The department is of the view that the applicant has not provided sufficient details for the authority to determine how and when the required infrastructure will be provided. As it stands now, it appears that each building would have its own sewage treatment plant, which is not consistent with the goal of a PAD which is that of a master planned development. It appears that infrastructure may cross from one PAD to another, yet there are no details of how this will be accomplished and when.”
The Department of Environment cautioned that the project site covers habitats for bromeliads, orchids, the local white-shouldered bat, and “hundreds of rare and threatened species of flora”. The department said the site is relatively close to blue iguana homes and contains the type of habitat that wild blue iguanas could colonise. Additionally, “there are indigenous Royal Palm communities which are unique and will be deforested as part of this proposal,” according to the environmental department.
“In masterplanning this site the DoE is concerned that the appropriate consideration and integration of natural resources into the overall PAD has been neglected. The applicant should have commissioned an Ecological Survey and an arboricultural survey to be undertaken”, according to the environmental department.
The environmental department said, “The results of the ecological survey and arboricultural survey could have been utilised to identify those areas with the greatest preservation value and seek to incorporate these, where possible, into the overall master plan for the site. Instead, we are presented with a proposed layout which pays no regard to the natural features of the site and does nothing to preserve anything of ecological value.”
The National Roads Authority’s comments include a list of questions about the project, some as basic as “What is the overall vision and goal of the [Health City Cayman Islands Planned Area Development]?”
The roads authority notes that the development applications anticipate the future construction of the East-West Arterial extension to the north of the site. The roads authority said, “There is no timeframe/monies as to when this road will be constructed. Which phase of the development will require this road?”
According to the roads authority, the development applications should have focussed more on the form of the buildings, and less on the uses for the different areas.
The roads authority also said, “A master [storm water management plan] would be a more suitable approach rather than piecemeal so that the site can tie together and also be compatible with the surrounding area.”