Construction work on a new tourism development on the George Town waterfront appears to be continuing, despite the Planning Appeals Tribunal’s decision to quash permission for the project.

The development, which includes a tour operator ticket sales area, rest rooms and a mobile food truck area, is planned for a section of oceanfront land across from the Waterfront Centre on North Church Street, close to a small beach area.

The project, initially turned down by the Central Planning Authority, was approved with some modifications in April 2015.

Neighboring landowner Chris Johnson has successfully appealed the decision and is now calling for the buildings to be demolished.

Developer Kel Thompson did not respond to requests for comment on the decision, but workmen were still on site continuing construction on Saturday.

In a decision published last week, the appeals tribunal says the Central Planning Authority, which initially rejected but then reconsidered and approved the application, has since accepted that it “fell into error” when it allowed a variance to the setback requirements by reference to regulation 8 (13) of the Development and Planning Regulations.

Neighboring landowner Chris Johnson has successfully appealed the decision and is now calling for the buildings to be demolished.

The decision states that the planning permission is “quashed and set aside.”

Mr. Johnson welcomed the decision, but complained that building work was continuing at the site.

“I am pleased to see that common sense has finally prevailed and that the Appeals Tribunal made the decision to rule against the Thompson building application,” he said. “We believe that the Thompson land in question is far too small to develop, but moreover, the development detracted from the vista and aesthetic appeal of the natural ironshore coastline which is an intrinsic part of the character of George Town.”

Mr. Johnson, who lodged an objection when the application was filed, had argued that it would negatively impact plans to construct a boardwalk and beautify the area.

He said there were numerous problems with the development, including the car park, which he said was built too close to the road, a septic tank too close to the ocean, and the development itself, which he said was too close to neighboring properties, without necessary permission being obtained from the adjoining landowners, himself included.

He said, “The building and the wall, both of which are eyesores should be pulled down and the ‘car park’ should be dug up.”

The decision does not necessarily mean that the development cannot ultimately go ahead. The Central Planning Authority will have to reconsider the application and make a new decision or issue an enforcement notice. Mr. Thompson also has the right of appeal to the Grand Court.

Mr. Johnson said the beach and ironshore area was used by Caymanians, residents and tourists alike and should remain available for public use.

Chris Johnson successfully appealed the decision to grant planning permission for a waterfront development next to his own land. - PHOTO: MATT LAMERS
Chris Johnson successfully appealed the decision to grant planning permission for a waterfront development next to his own land. – PHOTO: MATT LAMERS

While Mr. Thompson has consistently declined to respond to requests for comment on the development, his mother Mary Thompson wrote to the Cayman Compass in June to defend the development and condemn Mr. Johnson for his complaints.

She wrote, “While we welcome expatriates from all countries to Cayman (some of which have become what we call ‘paper Caymanians’) and have lived very peacefully together, there are some who have come to conclude they have priority over born Caymanians.

“Mr. Chris Johnson is making a disturbance because of a building that we are legally erecting on our long held property, which when completed, will be another benefit to tourism.

“While my husband (the late Norberg Thompson) and I are born Caymanians and are some of the largest Caymanian developers, it appears that Mr. Johnson is not satisfied by the decision granted by a board comprised of Caymanians (the Cayman Islands Central Planning Authority), and now seeks to have priority and impose his will over born Caymanians, who have done much to develop our country which has afforded many expats like him the opportunity to gain work and the right to live here in Cayman today.”

Construction work on a new tourism development on the George Town waterfront appears to be continuing, despite the Planning Appeals Tribunal’s decision to quash permission for the project. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY
Construction work on a new tourism development on the George Town waterfront appears to be continuing, despite the Planning Appeals Tribunal’s decision to quash permission for the project. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

Mr. Johnson said his complaints related to the inappropriateness of the development.

He added, “Regrettably this issue generated considerable antagonism as regards ‘paper Caymanians’ and others, which was never my intention and most unfortunate.”

The National Roads Authority and the Department of Environment also raised some concerns during the application process.

The Department of Environment wrote, “The proposed works will irreversibly detract from the vista and aesthetic appeal of the natural ironshore coastline in this area which is an intrinsic part of the character of the George Town waterfront, and which is becoming increasingly rare.”

34
2

4 COMMENTS

  1. What we have to realize that one day as the cowboy would say “Its going to be a bad day at black rock.”
    I do support Mr. Thompson in his construction and I am very familiar with his family Mr. & Mrs. Thompson, who made it possible in the days back then for Caymanians to enjoy a bit of their handy work on the water front.
    However; as we know there has been greedy persons who want to come and have it all and just does not want the Caymanian to even enjoy a breath of fresh air much less to develop his own property. I have always said we are all going to have to learn to live alongside each other on this tiny island because it is too small and some cannot expect to control 21 miles of it, while others only have 21 inches.

    5

    68
    • You don’t seem to have the same opinion when it comes to Dart. It’s okay with you for him to control all 102 sq miles of the island while you rant against small-time landowners whose only objective is in preserving and protecting the island to whatever extent one can given the rampant thoughtless unplanned growth on a tiny island like the CI.

      56

      4
  2. To the writer, I really would not have expected you to say anything else, just because you are one on the same wave length with many others who think the same way in regards to making the Caymanian become a third class citizen in his own country.
    Watch dog Caymanians like myself do that job, just watch; because, once we do not say something that pleases you know who; then it is thumbs down all the way. Sorry not going to hinder this political activist from taking the mike and saying HELLO !!
    Now concerning your thoughts about my support of the Dart Foundation.
    You are absolutely correct. I am a senior citizen with knowledge of what the Dart Foundation has done and is still doing in the Cayman Islands, and I am very sure the closest they have been to me, is maybe reading my comments.
    Before Dart came along, we had people who fenced their beach property right out to the REEF in the ocean. What is the reason? It is nothing about someone protecting or preserving the Island; it is all about some being selfish and greedy.
    We had people who came to this Island and made a killing, but did they ever built a school, a road, highway, a theatre, built parks, gave big donations and the list go on or anything at all that would benefit the people of Cayman. No, But the Dart Foundation did that.
    We had people who made and is still making a killing who never wanted the locals to walk the beach in front of their property much less have breakfast or kids enjoy the water slide. Dart provided that. I could go on and on all day with the many things Dart Foundation has done on the Island and YES I support the Dart Foundation to the fullest, and I must say I am very pleased that you have seen it fit to question my opinions and not just give a thumbs down, after all it is very health to agree to disagree and be disgruntled over any comments and give your honest opinion..

    12

    24
  3. The nationalities of the adversaries are irrelevant. What is relevant are the planning laws, if they are “adjusted” for some people then there is no point in having any laws in the first place.

    57

    2

Comments are closed.