Does Harlequin’s The Merricks have “full planning permission” or not? We have some doubts…


Dave Ames says Merricks has “full planning permission” …

“Last month, Harlequin’s The Merricks Resort project in Barbados was finally granted full planning permission after years of protracted studies and work. It was initially anticipated that this process would be much quicker, but Harlequin has always kept purchasers updated with progress.”

Financial Times Adviser, Beleaguered Harlequin owed £30m by property buyers April 24, 2013

“Harlequin is delighted to announce that last week it received full planning permission for The Merricks Resort project in Barbados. There are normal conditions attached to the permission and our team is now working to ensure we have full compliance to allow us to commence works.”

Financial Times Adviser, Harlequin halts construction amid £9m legal battle April 9, 2013

BFP’s old friend St. George’s Dragon checked personally at the Planning Office and is not so sure…

Mr Ames announced at the investor meetings that Harlequin had received full planning for Merricks. I admit that I was skeptical about this so I thought I would drop into the Barbados Town & Country Planning Office this afternoon to check. It is possible for members of the public to check applications. The information you can see is limited, though.

The original Planning Application was numbered 2602/09/2007E and an initial check on this showed only the outline approval which was granted back on 19 May 2010.

When I looked to see if there were any other applications by Harlequin I found 0825-05-2012E which was submitted on 14 May 2012. Full planning approval for this was granted on 27 March 2013, subject to 35 conditions. None are particularly onerous, just the sorts of things you would expect on a large development – reserved matters for future approval of various technical elements of the work etc.

A couple of comments.

If the approval was granted at the end of March, why did Mr Ames say they got it on Friday – or is that just postal delays from Barbados to the UK?

The other thing is that is unclear is how much of the development has approval. 2602/09/2007E was for the complete Merricks development. 0825-05-2012E is for “resort facilities phase 1 including the erection of buildings and public road improvements”. It is not clear what the extent of phase 1 is, and I was unable to see drawings. I hope it was not just for the show units!


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Real Estate

15 responses to “Does Harlequin’s The Merricks have “full planning permission” or not? We have some doubts…

  1. Beggars Belief

    How does Planning Permission work in the Caribbean? Once it is granted can a member of the public go in to look at the plans, conditions, reserved matters etc?

  2. It is interesting that you see “the Caribbean” as a single jurisdiction, which of course it is not, being vastly diverse separate countries. Here in the Bahamas the plans can be viewed at the Ministry of Works. In the case of a large investment or resort, government actually publishes a “Heads of Agreement”, under which the proposal is approved, and which is tabled and debated in parliament. The terms and conditions outlined therein are public and openly available at the Office of the Prime Minister.

  3. Mike

    This guy clearly has no conscience and will go to the ends of the earth to blame anyone but himself for this obvious fiasco. Even a blind person should clearly see what is happening. Caveat emptor !!!!!!

  4. yatinkiteasy

    What are the 35 Conditions that are referred to in the approval? There were 29 conditions in the 1st approval, one of which related to the (inadequate) water supply to the area.I believe another one related to the construction of a proper paved road from the main road to the site. Have those conditions been fulfilled?

  5. yatinkiteasy

    What Harlequin is not saying is that they sold millions of $ worth of villas etc at Merrricks, since 2006, without having full town and Country Planning approval!

  6. Last Chance

    DA was told yesterday and agreed to keep investors informed .. Put him to the test – I and hundreds of others want to see this agreement of Full planning permission in writing .. As a Merricks investor I believe this is my right.. Trying to stay positive about this .. Keep the posts coming guys on this topic..

  7. St George's Dragon

    The 35 conditions are boring and mostly reserved matters – so things that have to be approved by the Chief Town Planner, the Environmental Director etc.
    Samples are:
    – engineering details associated with the road widening of Peat Bay Road
    – all the building and engineering operations in connection with the access roads including drainage are to be completed before occupation of any building
    – all necessary fire precaution measures must be carried out to the satisfaction of the Chief Fire Officer
    – water storage requirements
    – damage by heavy duty vehicles turning onto Peat Road at the junction with Highway 5 is to be reinstated to the satisfaction of the CTP
    – the proposed beach elevator shall be erected on the cliffs without imposing any load on the cliff face
    – submission of and approval by the CTP of revised plans with the sewage treatment plant relocated from close proximity to the adjoining residential area.
    – sewage treatment plant design and operation to be to the specifications of the Director of the Environmental Protection Department
    Trust me, its boring, normal stuff.
    I will repost my note from elsewhere about water and the scope of the approval.

  8. St George's Dragon

    Yes, it has been reported on BFP that there were costly conditions attached to the upgrade of the Water supply at Merricks. The new permission certainly does not contain the same condition about paying BWA for infrastructure improvements. What it does have at condition 34, is a requirement to submit to and obtain approval from the Chief Town Planner of a “water reticulation plan” showing the mains, avoiding dead ends etc. I made brief notes about it, but the main thing I noted was that it did not seem to be the onerous requirement that was originally imposed.
    As I said in my post, I have been to the Town & Country Planning Department to look at the application and approval. The information the officials will allow members of the public to review are the notes of the application (name and details of applicant, in effect the name of the application and it’s status (whether approved or not and if approved what the conditions are). I was not able to see the plans and neither should any other member of the public.
    The only way you can find out more about it is if you are Harlequin (why don’t they just tell us?) or if you are a local resident impacted by the development.

  9. Yatinkiteasy

    Can construction start before the stipulated “conditions” are fulfilled?

  10. St George's Dragon

    Not my area of expertise but I believe the answer is yes. If the conditions are not satisfied, the required Certificate of Compliance will not be issued at completion.

  11. Been had

    @St G D, your info and comments are very helpfull and very much appreciated.
    I doubt if Ames will say that much about Merricks,he has no money and no intention of starting anything.

  12. Why?

    “I was not able to see the plans and neither should any other member of the public.”

    In most jurisdictions, building and other plans are available to the public.

    Why should it be any different in Barbados?

    These plans are being sold to the public at large, so who is being protected
    here and why?

    The Chief Town Planner has been known to issue cease and desist orders,
    so without having major pre-conditions met, why was this never done without protecting the investors?

  13. St George's Dragon

    @ Why?
    While I may agree with what you say those are the rules in Barbados and you won’t get them changed any time soon.
    Investors should be asking Harlequin for copies of the plans. They should presumably be delighted to share what they will say is part of their “success story”.

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