Mr. Speaker, I move that, in accordance with sections 10 & 11 of the Development & Planning Act 1974, this Honourable House consider and approve “the Bermuda Plan 2018”.
The Bermuda Plan 2018 (the Plan) is a development plan prepared by the Department of Planning to guide development for the island for many years to come. The Plan, which covers the entire Island with the exception of the City of Hamilton, comprises a policy document and zoning maps and the Tribunal report and can be accessed online directly from the Department’s website: www.planning.gov.bm .
Mr. Speaker, the overarching aim of the Plan is “to effectively manage Bermuda’s natural and built environment, resources and development and to help build healthy, sustainable communities.” In support of this aim, the Plan is based on three strategies:-
- A Development Strategy
- A Conservation Strategy
- A Community Strategy
Mr. Speaker, within the framework of these strategies, the Plan sets out five key goals:-
- To conserve open space and protect the Island’s natural and built heritage;
- To provide sufficient development potential to meet the community’s needs;
3. To facilitate community improvements in neighbourhoods to create better, healthier and safer places to live and visit;
- To encourage a more efficient and sustainable use and development of land and buildings; and
- To ensure a high quality of design and accessibility in all new developments.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members may recall that the Bermuda Plan 2018 was first released as a draft Plan and was the subject of a three-and- a-half month public consultation period which resulted in a total of 457 objections and counter objections being received.
Mr. Speaker, following the withdrawal of 50 objections, 232 objections remained; 147 (63%) of which were zoning related. The most common zoning objections involved landowners wanting to remove Agricultural Reserve and Woodland Reserve Conservation Areas from their property. This has been a common theme with objections to previous Draft Bermuda Plans, and reflects landowners wanting greater development potential for their properties.
Mr. Speaker, in the Department’s processing of the 232 valid objections, I am pleased to note that 52% of them were resolved between the Department of Planning’s technical officers and the objector. This left the remaining 48% of objections in an unresolved status to be heard by the Tribunal.
Mr. Speaker, following the conclusion of the Tribunal inquiries in December 2020, recommendations were made and submitted to me in the form of the Draft Bermuda Plan 2018 Tribunal Report. Following the completion of my review, this report was finalized to reflect the resolutions for each objection and representation.
Mr. Speaker, the Bermuda Plan 2018 Planning Statement and digital zoning maps reflect the final resolutions for amendments to the Draft Bermuda Plan 2018. As a result of these amendments, the final Bermuda Plan 2018 reflects a rezoning of some 25 acres of Conservation zoned land to Development zoned land from the Draft Plan.
Mr. Speaker, the most significant zoning changes involved such areas as the St. Regis property in St. George’s where some 20 acres of land was
rezoned to Tourism to align with the development approvals granted by the St. George’s Resort Act 2018. This land under the Draft Bermuda Plan 2018 was zoned a combination of both conservation zonings as well as development zonings. Other significant zoning amendments included:
- the Morgan’s Point property which resulted in an expansion of the ‘Special Study Area’ zoning to align with property boundaries as well as a loss of Coastal Reserve conservation zoning; and
- the BLDC lands at Southside which included the rezoning of just over 20 acres of Industrial zoned land to Mixed Use.
Mr. Speaker, the Tribunal provided additional remarks for my consideration. Of particular note, the Tribunal recommended that a new coastal study for Bermuda should be undertaken. It was specifically noted that there is continuing development pressure upon coastal areas. As such, the impacts of climate change upon Bermuda’s shores must be comprehensively assessed to determine the continued viability to develop along the coastline.
Mr. Speaker, the Tribunal’s recommendation to conduct a new coastal study for Bermuda is wholly supported. Such a study would be in alignment with the Government’s commitment to the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme and preparation of a Marine Spatial Plan in addition to highlight the risks from climate change in order to assist this Government to determine to solutions to mitigate the risks.
Mr. Speaker, it is appreciated that a balance must be struck between securing the coastline whilst enabling development to continue in a pragmatic way. Commissioning a coastal study will provide an updated coastal vulnerability assessment for the Island and a detailed review of the Coastal Reserve Conservation Zone which would enable the updating of coastal protection and development policies.
Mr. Speaker, the importance of the Bermuda Plan 2018 cannot be understated. There is a recognized need to provide flexibility within policy to provide the necessary mechanism to support development and new investment. This of course should not be to the detriment of our natural environment. The work of the Department involves assessing
these competing interests and is becoming increasingly challenging in today’s rapidly changing environment.
Mr. Speaker, in this vein, the Department continues its work to streamline the planning process. Following the approval and adoption of the final Bermuda Plan 2018, plan making efforts will focus on preparing local community plans for individual areas of the Island. It is recognized that although the island is such a limited landmass, each community has a set of unique circumstances and thereby require more tailored policy to better serve the needs of the residents in their respective community. One such example involves a local plan for North East Hamilton, details of which will be released soon.
Mr. Speaker, in addition to plan making, the Department is working diligently on other projects including legislative change to ensure services and programmes are meeting the needs of our dynamic environment and society.
Mr. Speaker, in efforts to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change, the review of the Bermuda Building Code will incorporate more
sustainable building practices utilizing the latest advances in renewable technology. Bermuda’s code requirements and building methods are widely recognized for its resilience and our aim is to continue and build upon this stellar reputation.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity at this time to recognise the efforts of Ms. Victoria Pereira, Director of the Department of Planning and her team in their ongoing efforts to transform its services and provide innovative ways of serving the development needs of the island. Additionally I would like to thank the members of the Land Tribunal which includes: Mr. John Payne (Chair), Mrs. Jennifer Haworth and Mr. Carlos Amaral and alternate members: Mr. Jonathan Starling, Ms. Vanessa Turner and Ms. Quinell Francis for their commitment and many hours of effort to the conclusion of this plan.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.