The Dart group’s plans to expand the size of an underpass, currently under construction on West Bay Road, is facing opposition on two fronts.

The National Roads Authority has objected to the expansion, arguing that the developer has not provided sufficient justification for the project.

The NRA also argues that it, rather than the Central Planning Authority, should have final decision-making authority on such applications.

The expansion of the tunnel, part of Dart’s plan to link Seven Mile Beach and Camana Bay, is also opposed by a community group, advocating for the preservation of public access to the beaches.

The Concerned Citizens group say the development blocks access to two paths to Seven Mile Beach.

Those grievances were expected to be considered by the Central Planning Authority during its meeting Wednesday.

But the hearing was adjourned because the board was provided with incomplete documents by the planning department.

Dart Real Estate said in a statement that it would address the concerns raised by the NRA and others when the hearing takes place, likely next month.

The original application for a 400-foot underpass was granted, with the support of the roads authority, in February.

Dart has already completed an underpass and a bridge at the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. Ultimately, it plans to link this to the West Bay Road underpass, expanding Camana Bay over both roads.

Following the acquisition of the Royal Palms restaurant and bar last month, Dart submitted an application to extend the West Bay Road underpass by another 195 feet, adjacent to that property.

This time, the roads authority has objected, arguing that it has not been given enough detail to justify the need for the extension.

In a submission to the Central Planning Authority, published with the agenda papers for Wednesday’s meeting, it states, “There is no conclusive justification for the tunnel extension being deemed necessary or appropriate; the proposed future development plans provided offer very little indication of timelines and scheduled construction dates and it appears as if these plans are subject to change as future acquisitions become a reality.”

It also highlights safety concerns, including “pedestrian conflicts and near misses” during construction of the underpass.

Highlighting a clause in the Planning Law, the NRA suggests the authority to deal with the application falls within its remit, rather than the Central Planning Authority.

“Ultimately, there is no justifiable reason or need to extend the tunnel and the NRA Board’s decision is not to approve the application,” it states.

Typically, the planning authority treats the NRA’s submissions as advisory. The board or the department has not indicated, at this stage, whether it accepts the roads authority’s claim that it should have jurisdiction for developments like this.

A separate concern has been raised by the Concerned Citizens group that the underpass blocks beach access paths and restricts public rights to the beach that should be protected in perpetuity.

Alice Mae Coe, a founding member of the group which has been campaigning for decades to preserve beach access amid increasing coastal development, said the rights of way needed to be maintained.

“I’m not against development or Mr. Dart, I am in favor of Cayman Islands residents, wherever they come from, having the right of access to the beach that they have enjoyed for hundreds of years,” she said.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I think the decision of the NRA (which so far has not exactly achieved a stellar record within it’s remit), smacks of petulance and hostility to the Dart Group, in citing “no justifiable reason or need to extend the tunnel”.
    Contrast this with the words of Alice Mae Coe in the final paragraph of the article which could not have been phrased better. It is now for Dart to respond to Ms Coe’s concerns which I am sure they can, and ensure sufficient public access to the 600ft of beach involved in this project.

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  2. Good point Roger , but which one would he Dart reply to ? NRA or Ms Coe ?
    I think that Ms Coe has a valid point in her protest and the public should be behind her in her efforts .
    I believe that if this issue is being handled by the NRA and Dart the public would be the loser again and deprived of one more PUBLIC BEACH ACCESS .

    I think that Dart and any other developer needs to understand that Caymanian used the beaches long before they became developers in the Cayman Island, and it should remain the People’s RIGHTS to continue to use these public access to the beaches and water .

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  3. Maybe in the future we could use it as an over pass also , just thinking for the future. You know when the sea rises? Maybe that is the future ? If the sea rises like environmentalist claim could it not be converted to over the street highway? I suggested a boardwalk in George town when we were arguing for a cruise ship facility in town. Why not connect that elevated highway or monorail straight into town ? I’m surprised with all those ideas coming from Dart teams that they can’t see that for the future.

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  4. I wonder why People are not voicing their respective opinion on this issue “blocking Public Beach Access ” ? Are they getting the chance to ? Or are they been. blocked ? If the News media are blocking them , should you then be a public News forum ?

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