Health City Cayman Islands developers have obtained permission to build the first phase of the hospital facility for the Dr. Devi Shetty medical tourism project in East End.
Project director Gene Thompson said construction will begin shortly, according to a news release.
The first phase of the Grand Cayman hospital project will include 140 beds, operating theatres and other support facilities, comprising of more than 107,000 square feet.
“Initially the hospital will offer cardiac and orthopaedic services to local, regional, and international patients with additional tertiary-care specialties being added as the medical complex expands. First patients are expected in early 2014,” the news release read.
The Central Planning Authority considered Health City Cayman Islands’ application for the hospital during its 6 February meeting. The minutes from that meeting have not yet been posted on the Department of Planning’s website, so details of the discussions and any conditions of approval set by the planning authority are not yet available.
During its 23 January meeting, the planning authority approved three planned area development applications – by Health City Cayman Islands, Health City Development Limited and City Services (Cayman) Limited – setting out the land use for a 230-acre site north of Sea View Road in Grand Cayman. The minutes from that meeting have not been posted yet either.
According to the agenda for the 6 February meeting, several government departments were requesting further information about the project.
The National Roads Authority requested a traffic impact assessment, and the Department of Environment requested an environmental impact assessment. Also, “The Department of Environmental Health has requested additional information, however, these issues can be addressed at the building permit stage, should the application be approved,” according to the planning department’s notes on the application.
Additionally, “Building Control has done an initial view and have raised concerns with the design of the building,” according to the planning department.
Speaking during a weekly Cabinet media briefing last week, the minister responsible for health and environment, Mark Scotland, said an environmental impact assessment was not a “firm requirement” under the existing planning regulations. But Mr. Scotland said he did not consider that such an assessment was necessary for the construction of the 107,000-square-feet building for the 140-bed hospital.
However, he added: “Certainly for the master plan going forward, I would agree to a requirement for an EIA for … a master plan of 50 acres or more, but at this point, for this phase of it, I would not see that as a necessity to have an EIA for 100,000 square feet of building space.”
The Department of Environment had also called for an assessment to be done prior to the Central Planning Authority granting permission for the Health City’s Planned Area Development, but the authority granted permission for the master plans without requiring an EIA.
Under the existing planning law, there is no requirement for the Department of Environment to be consulted on planning applications and the Central Planning Authority is not legally obliged in any way to act on DoE recommendations. A proposed National Conservation Law, if passed, would require consultation with the Department of Environment on environmentally sensitive projects and environmental impact assessments carried out on such projects would be legally required to be taken into account by the planning authorities.
Planning documents for the first phase of the Shetty hospital indicate a projected cost of $50 million. Eventually, the facility will grow to become a 2,000-bed hospital, developers have said. The US$2 billion project is scheduled to be built in phases over a 15-year period. In addition to hospital facilities, the overall development calls for medical and nursing schools, hotels, commercial and retail areas, apartments and homes, assisted living accommodations, restaurants and civic buildings.
“The initial phase will offer cardiac and orthopaedic surgeries to medical tourism patients coming in as well as those services being available to us here on island where needed,” Mr. Scotland said. “Construction has started and we received updates Monday and Tuesday that they’re actually pouring concrete on the site and that means full construction is ongoing, which means again employment opportunities being made for local contractors and local construction workers and very pleasant addition to the employment needs at this present time.”