Opposition mounts over Dart’s latest new-town plan

This aerial image shows the area that the mixed-use development will cover, spanning from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club to Seven Mile Beach.

Objectors are voicing their opposition to Dart’s plan to create a major new development between the Cayman Islands Yacht Club and the Kimpton Seafire.

Dart’s Crymble Landholdings Ltd has submitted a planning application for a ‘Planned Area Development’, or PAD, to seek permission for a mixed-use, resort and residential development over 157 acres. The new town development, if approved, would span an area from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club to Seven Mile Beach, and involve cutting a canal under the Esterley Tibbetts Highway bridge.

A group called Cayman Beach Watch has highlighted several concerns over the project, including blocked beach accesses, removal of mangroves, over-development of the area, and the impact of a canal from the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach.

Dart held meetings with prospective tenants of the proposed development at the Camana Bay Cinema on 9 and 10 March to outline plans for the site.

The objectors said that as these meetings were by invitation only, members of the wider public would only have their say if they submit their objections in writing to the Planning Department by the 26 March deadline.

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A copy of the PAD planning application can be found here.

Cayman Beach Watch has drawn up a detailed letter, outlining the reasons they are opposing the development and are inviting members of the public to sign the letter and submit to the Planning Department.

In the letter, the group says the construction of the multi-phase development will involve the removal of mangroves, thereby taking away a natural storm surge buffer and impacting the health of the North Sound by affecting water clarity and threatening marine-life nurseries and fish stocks.

They also object to the plan to cut a canal from the North Sound marina, under the Esterley Tibbetts Highway bridge, through the Kaaboo site to the Kimpton Seafire Resort for the purpose of creating a marina.

In its objections, the group stated, “How can anyone forget that during Hurricane Ivan – (even though the Kaaboo site was still well-treed at that time) – the boats and docks etc. from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club were deposited by the winds and feet-high water from the North Sound onto the West Bay Road and landed on the tops of cars and trucks.

“It therefore takes little or no imagination to understand and realize what would happen, were such a canal allowed, and should there be another natural major disaster like or possibly stronger than Hurricane Ivan, such action would have the same disastrous effect as cutting Grand Cayman in two completely separate parts and allowing the North Sound to flow straight into and over our prized Seven Mile Beach and sea.”

The group also says that up to 34 vehicular and pedestrian rights of way and beach accesses will be blocked if the development goes ahead.

The objectors also query who will benefit from the development, stating, “With hundreds of acres of bare earth in unoccupied developments, there are a vast amount of unused man-modified sites throughout Grand Cayman. At this time there is no demonstrated need for further environmental destruction just to satisfy the desires of rich mega developers for more profits. These speculative developments do not benefit the average Caymanian.”

More details about the objections can be found here.

Dart’s Camana Bay, in comparison, covers 685 acres from the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach.

Dart, in a statement issued earlier this week, said it was aware “there is some anxiety in the local community” about the proposed PAD plan in terms of future development and how it may impact beach access.

Dart stated that drawings included in the PAD planning application are conceptual and that “there is no definitive development plans at this stage”.

The company said the PAD provided “a framework for development in the years ahead and can be adapted to meet changing needs, if required”.

It added that Dart had held meetings with neighbouring property owners and other stakeholders to provide details of the PAD. It said it had hosted “10 information sessions with more than 500 people” and has “several more in the pipeline”.

In its statement, Dart also touched on the subject of beach access, saying “we understand the concerns about retaining public access and appreciate its value to the community”.

“The recent upgrades to Public Beach and the 1,300 ft public pathway that runs in front of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa provide convenient access to Seven Mile Beach in this area, and we are considering how to continue this connectivity with new developments,” the company said.

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  1. I understand some projects furl a brow and are a cause for concern, but having watched the Dart organization here for 20 years, and old enough to remember Cayman before their first project, I feel this plan should be openly embraced and encouraged by all Caymanians. Dart group does things right, they have shown a care for and attention to the environment; and all the projects they have completed are welcoming to everyone and provide all kids of accessibility to the public. There are bad things in life worth fighting and there are good things we should all embrace. This is the latter. From a national perspective the scale of this vision will help ensure Cayman is safe and relevant long into the future. It will provide a permanent and diversified revenue stream to government and will help the nation face future natural disasters and external challenges to our financial sector. I wish them good fortune with it and look forward to watching my children and grandchildren play there, go there, gather and stay.

  2. Dart doesn’t really have a great record in preserving beach access, does he? Over the last decade he has systematically removed every beach side bar that was available to the local public along Seven Mile.

    Do we really want to give this man more of our beaches to monopolise and monetise?