CPA shoots down Westin’s 10-storey building application

The Westin Hotel on West Bay Road, in George Town. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay (file)

The Central Planning Authority on Wednesday refused an application for a 10-storey hotel and other facilities at the existing Westin hotel site, on West Bay Road.

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Click here for the 11 Nov. CPA agenda

The $122.5 million project was proposed to be set mostly within the existing footprint of the hotel’s southern-most building on the site.

The application included 234 guest rooms, two restaurants, conference rooms, a ground-level pool, rooftop pool, off-site parking and floor-plan modifications to the existing hotel, according to CPA’s meeting agenda.

Several attempts to reach Westin vice president and managing director Jim Mauer for comment on Friday were unsuccessful. It’s unclear whether the hotel will attempt to address concerns outlined by the CPA and reapply at a later date.

The application had been before the CPA since September, when the body was adjourned in order for the applicant to notify the leasehold owners that fall within the required notification radius.

There were several objectors to the project, including residents at the nearby Villas of the Galleon, according to the CPA’s agenda for the 11 Nov. meeting. A list of concerns from objectors included lack of parking and lack of safety for pedestrians.

Several government agencies – including the Department of Environment and National Roads Authority – outlined concerns as well, although neither recommended outright refusing the application.

The DoE’s comments regarding hardscape within 130 feet of the high-water-mark setback and turtle habitat were among the issues to be discussed, as was the NRA’s comments regarding improvements to West Bay Road.

Development site compared to historical turtle nesting areas.

While the DoE concluded the proposed development would not require an Environmental Impact Assessment, it did note that several aspects of the project would be located within 130 feet of the high-water mark on what it described as a turtle-nesting beach.

“The DoE strongly maintains its stance that coastal setbacks should not be reduced but instead should be treated as a minimum,” the department said in its comments to the CPA.

The DoE also recommended any exterior lighting visible from the beach be “turtle friendly”, noting that the applicant had not indicated use of turtle-friendly lighting in the proposed development.

Development site compared to historical turtle nesting areas.

The DoE also noted the potential visual impacts of the project.

“As building heights increase, the character of Seven Mile Beach will change,” the DoE said. “More people will be introduced onto the beach and the demolition of low-rise structures to be replaced with high-rise buildings like the proposed hotel tower… [will affect the view] of Seven Mile Beach.”

The NRA stated the impact of the project on both West Bay Road and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway “could be considered significant”. It recommended the CPA consider asking the applicant to complete a traffic impact assessment. It added the applicant proposed to work with the NRA to upgrade West Bay Road.

Minutes from the meeting are not yet available on the CPA website.

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  1. This is a responsible leap in the right direction! Acknowledging the change of character alone for Seven Mile Beach because of the continued high rise construction was refreshing and hopeful to hear. It would be wonderful if the new permit held into consideration something more of a balanced plan, where both man and nature wins. I’m grateful the DoE is also mindful of the turtle nesting beach and the use of turtle friendly lighting, wonderful!