“The Government is committed to supporting our small and medium sized businesses. They are an important part of our economic recovery, and we’re here to ensure that they have the help they need to thrive and be successful.
In fact, the streamlined processes implemented by the Government regarding planning applications continued to encourage many building projects to start early during the pandemic, which has helped local businesses and the economy overall,” said the Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Walter Roban in response to planning concerns raised by local businessman Marico Thomas.
And the Minister stressed that the issues surrounding this planning matter should be viewed in context noting, “We appreciate the contribution of Mr. Thomas to our economy and our workforce. I have been made aware of Mr. Thomas’ planning concerns. However, this matter must be viewed in its fullest context.
“The building in question is a Grade 2 Listed Building and located within a Historic Protection Area and the World Heritage Site for St. George’s. As such, the planning application had to be reviewed by three required entities: the Corporation of St. George’s, St. George’s Preservation Authority, and the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee.
“During the review stage, the Preservation Authority sought additional clarity as to what specific changes would be made to the external façade. A response was provided, but there was no mention of the extractor fan.
“To be clear, planning approval was granted for the renovation of the ground floor kitchen and to repair the porch. The planning application did not show exhaust fans, and hence, the planning permission did not include the installation of exhaust fans. A direct link to the planning application file record can be found at: https://planningenergov.gov.bm/EnerGov_Prod/SelfService#/plan/81bd4a37-efb9-4728-8bc5-b3fe76b56946?tab=attachments.”
Minister Roban continued, “I should also stress that the Department of Planning were made aware of issues by area residents, the Corporation of St. George and the St. George’s Preservation Society – with the latter having the statutory authority to approve or refuse any renovations. These concerns prompted the investigation by the Department of Planning.
“At no time did the Department halt the project or issue a Stop Order on the development contrary to Mr. Thomas’ allegations. Instead, in an extraordinary show of good faith, following the misleading information presented to the media, the Department of Planning went to great efforts to discuss with Mr. Thomas various options to address the concerns, and mitigate the challenge of the visual impact of the extraction fan upon the listed building and World Heritage Site.
“We will continue to work with Mr. Thomas to find a workable solution to this matter to ensure a beneficial outcome for all concerned.”
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