Condo owners along a stretch of Seven Mile Beach are voicing objections to a proposed 3.7 acre retail and residential development on the inland side of the road. Some expressed concerns to the CPA that the development would hamper their enjoyment of their private beach. There’s just one catch, it’s not exactly a private beach.
As we know, Cayman’s world-class white-sand beaches are for the public’s free use and enjoyment up to the high water mark.
As owners at Plantana, The Avalon, and The Great House register their objections to a proposed mixed-use development right across the street, another beach access controversy has been ignited. Trees and shrubs behind me are actually blocking a registered public right of way to the sea, one that Lands and Survey documents show was a condition of Planning approval for the Great House development.
The Central Planning Authority is poised to consider a proposed commercial and residential development on the inland side of West Bay Road at its Wednesday meeting. Dozens of beachfront condo owners at the Great House and neighboring properties have already submitted their objections.
“Their objection is that they don’t want people on their private beach, and many of the owners even mention this in their letters,” said developer and beach access activist Morne Botes.
Mr. Botes told Cayman 27 objections like these one are ignoring one basic tenet of Cayman life.
“Seven Mile Beach is the public’s beach, it’s the people’s beach there’s no such thing as private beaches in the Cayman Islands,” said Mr. Botes.
Mr. Botes said he believes the trees and shrubs were strategically placed to block a registered public right of way to the sea.
“The whole joke about the whole thing is that this is supposed to be a public access,” said Mr. Botes.
A Lands and Survey document from 1997 addressed to the Great House strata revealed that a public right of way was agreed upon as a condition of planning approval. 20 years later and that condition has apparently not been met.
“This is very blatant to me, if you look at the size of this tree, it didn’t grow over two or three years, this is a massive tree, they probably been growing this for 10 years here just to block the access, it’s just sad,” said Mr. Botes.
While Mr. Botes himself sees no problems with the grove development itself, he said he hopes the public will turn out to demand their right to use this registered public right of way be restored.
“It’s two separate issues, this gentleman was planning commission, these people are saying no because we don’t want people on a beach, but they can’t block the public access, it’s just wrong,” said Mr. Botes.
It’s important to note the owners at these neighboring properties have a laundry list of other objections to the proposed development, including concerns over its density, and that the one bedroom apartments would attract a lower-end type of clientele and be rented out on sites like Air B&B.
Cayman 27 reached out to the attorney for the Great House strata Tuesday, but did not hear back.
The CPA meets Wednesday at 10 AM at the Government Administration Building, and is expected to consider the Grove’s application around 1:30 PM