The Adrian Loveridge Column – The Rise of Concrete Monsters on the Barbados Coastline
Are ten-storey high hotels set to be the new ‘norm’ on Barbados and if so, what are the potential negative implications?
Clearly, any developer wants to maximize their investment, but when the land and buildings have reportedly been purchased at well below recognized market value, where is the imperative and justification?
If planning permission is granted, then how on earth will authorities be in a position to decline such similar sky-scraper projects in other parts of the island?
Imagine for instance, the now empty Silver Sands Hotel and the derelict former Harlequin ‘H’ project at Hastings being re-built consisting of ten floors.
But would it stop there?
It is easy to visualize, that even current operating properties, perhaps in their latter lifetime days, may choose to demolish and re-construct with far greater usable square footage and perceived improved viability and occupancy.
Established hoteliers may be driven into thinking, that this is the only rational way to once again try and compete in a clearly not level playing field.
We have witnessed the damage and implications that a barely functional sewage system has caused on the south coast, with several closed businesses and others brought to the depths of financial and operating despair.
Then the ongoing concern of the sea water quality.
Frequent water shortages are for many, everyday experiences, as still are regular and reliable garbage collections, despite massive increases in the cost of those services.
And that’s before we consider the consequential increase in parking spaces required and an affordable safe public transportation system to ensure additional employed staff are able to get to/from work, day and night.
All this, while our current existing hotels, who have not received the overwhelming benefits of cheap taxpayer owned land or unique one-off long term tax concessions, are struggling to pay vast increased operating expenses which include huge land tax hikes, while in a normal year, barely reaching an average annual occupancy rate of 67 per cent.
Most people understand the precarious financial position the current administration has been left with and the decimating effect on investment the previous Government has left during its ten years. But, the medium to long term remedy cannot be to give one or two chosen individuals or aligned small groups a distinct advantage over everyone else.
Let us for a moment imagine that each of the following existing properties along the south coast, opt to transform their current hotels to ten floors.
Butterfly, Sand Acres, Sea Breeze, Barbados Beach Club (sea and roadside), Bougainvillea, Turtle Beach, Dover Beach, Southern Palms,
Divi Southwinds and Rostrevor, just for a start!
Given that planning permission is granted to the Blue Horizon project, even though the sale was granted after the failed promise that it would become a Hard Rock Hotel, what possible refusal could be applied to any or all of the above named hotels?
And this is before any smaller operating hotels or vacant land plots along the south coast are put into the equation. Ultimately would this lead to private property owners and alternative accommodation offerings being forced to live in the sun denied shadows of new architecturally soulless concrete ‘monsters’ which may obliterate the few remaining windows-to-the –sea, for both locals and visitors?