The Dart group has revived plans for a five-star hotel on Seven Mile Beach – incorporating the current site of the Royal Palms bar.
Concept plans for the expansion of Camana Bay, showing a hotel on the site, are included in a new application to extend the underpass the developer is building on West Bay Road.
The Central Planning Authority turned down an application for an extension last year, saying it did not have enough information about Dart’s future development plans to approve the works.
The new application includes that detail, indicating that the purchase of the Royal Palms site, which went through in August last year, has enabled the developer to resurrect a previously announced ambition for a hotel, including buildings over the top of the road.
The substantive planning application is for an approximately 171-foot extension to the underpass. The hotel plan, which would require a separate application, is included to illustrate Dart’s long-term goals for the site.
The developer has been in discussions with a five-star operator, understood to be the Four Seasons, about a new hotel for some time.
Planning documents, included with the underpass submission, indicate the operator had cooled on the proposed location, because it did not include enough beach frontage.
Dart had switched its attention to another site, north of the Kimpton Seafire Resort, as the preferred location for the resort. But it encountered different hurdles at that property, with beach rock in the shallow coastal waters along the beachfront cited as an obstacle for future guests.
A bid to remove the rock stalled amid a requirement for an environmental impact assessment on the likely effect of the modifications on Seven Mile Beach.
Now, with the purchase of the Royal Palms doubling the beach frontage and increasing the acreage at the Camana Bay site, Dart appears to have reverted back to Plan A.
According to architect John Doak, in a submission to the Central Planning Authority in support of the underpass expansion, “The inclusion of the Royal Palms site will provide adequate beach frontage to connect the future five-star hotel to the rest of Camana Bay, enhancing the country’s tourism product, while providing meaningful beach access to the Camana Bay community and the general public.”
Drawings submitted with the application show the Royal Palms site incorporated in a “master plan,” which shows Camana Bay stretching across the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and West Bay Road, linking the hotel to the town center over an elevated avenue.
Some of the hotel buildings are shown directly over the road.
Dart needs to extend the length of the West Bay Road underpass from its current length of 406 feet to 577 feet to make the concepts outlined in the master plan possible, the submission indicates.
“This particular infrastructure is considered essential in the creation of a pedestrian friendly town connecting Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound,” it states.
“Visitors and residents will be able to travel safely from sea to sound, enjoying the amenities along the way of landscaped paths and planned development on an elevated plane between the West Bay Road and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.”
New parking will be added under the elevated plane and a network of paths have been included in the design for pedestrian and cycle access.