PRESS RE­LEASE The Land­ings re­sponds to claims by San­dals

The Star (St. Lucia) - - PRESS RELEASE - Con­tact: The Pub­lic Re­la­tions De­part­ment The Land­ings Re­sort & Spa Pi­geon Is­land Cause­way PO Box CP5984, Cas­tries 1-758-458-7300 ext 7301 pr@land­ingsstlu­

Re­cently, much has been pub­lished and dis­cussed in the me­dia re­gard­ing the ces­sa­tion of con­struc­tion work on the San­dals La Source Project at Pi­geon Is­land, Gros Islet, due to le­gal pro­ceed­ings in­sti­tuted by The Land­ings Re­sort. For those who are unaware, the Cause­way link­ing Pi­geon Is­land to the main­land was cre­ated in the 1970’s by dredg­ing the Re­duit swamp and the reefs join­ing the main­land to Pi­geon Is­land were filled in to cre­ate the Cause­way. Pi­geon Pointe is there­fore all re­claimed land. At that time, when ho­tel con­struc­tion was be­ing un­der­taken along the Re­duit Beach, as well as the then Hy­att Ho­tel now San­dals Grande, the Saint Lu­cia Plan­ning De­part­ment in­di­cated that build­ings should be no higher than the high­est co­conut tree. This rule has gen­er­ally been fol­lowed with The Land­ings be­ing con­strained to no more than 4 sto­ries dur­ing its con­struc­tion in 2007.

The Land­ings is an ho­tel re­sort made up of 146 vil­las con­structed and de­vel­oped in 2007 by Saint Lu­cian and Cana­dian Na­tion­als. The ho­tel presently em­ploys just un­der 200 full time em­ploy­ees, all of whom are Saint Lu­cian or Cari­com na­tion­als, in well­pay­ing jobs and is an im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to Saint Lu­cia’s econ­omy and tourism prod­uct, of­fer­ing an ex­cel­lent ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence. Un­like with the San­dals All In­clu­sive prod­uct, the guests and own­ers of The Land­ings can be fre­quently found pa­tron­iz­ing lo­cal restau­rants, tours, shops and taxis to name a few.

Late last year The Land­ings, like most of the Saint Lu­cian pub­lic, be­came aware, through the me­dia, of an in­tended de­vel­op­ment by San­dals at Pi­geon Is­land. As the in­tended de­vel­op­ment was said to bound with The Land­ings prop­erty, The Land­ings sought di­a­logue with San­dals and re­quested par­tic­u­lar in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing their de­vel­op­ment plans. No in­for­ma­tion was forth­com­ing.

Early this year, The Land­ings wrote to the DCA through its le­gal coun­sel Peter I. Foster, QC and the law firm of FOSTERS, to in­quire into the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment. Again, no in­for­ma­tion was pro­vided. Even­tu­ally, and only after the de­vel­op­ment plans had been ap­proved, were The Land­ings per­mit­ted to view the plans, but no copies of the plans, re­ports or in­for­ma­tion were al­lowed. On re­view of the phys­i­cal plans at the of­fices of the DCA, we ob­served that extremely large struc­tures, 9 to 11 sto­ries, were ap­proved for de­vel­op­ment, 25 feet from its bound­ary. Part of The Land­ings prop­erty was also in­cluded in the ap­proved de­vel­op­ment plans of San­dals. The pro­posed 9 to 11 story San­dals build­ings would cast shad­ows over The Land­ings ho­tel prop­erty and re­strict the views of not only Land­ings res­i­dents but many res­i­dents in the area who had be­come ac­cus­tomed to view­ing the iconic Pi­geon Pointe and its peaks. The Land­ings are con­cerned that they were not con­sulted dur­ing the DCA ap­proval process and no con­sid­er­a­tion was given to the devastating ef­fect this de­vel­op­ment would have on their prop­erty. The in­tended de­vel­op­ment is not in keep­ing with the style, scope, den­sity and blend of sur­round­ing ex­ist­ing coastal prop­er­ties in the vicin­ity of the Pi­geon Pointe and Re­duit Beach prop­er­ties.

The ef­fect of this large 10 story plus de­vel­op­ment so close to The Land­ings could be devastating, to our ho­tel prod­uct, our prop­erty and our op­er­a­tions, thereby jeop­ar­diz­ing in­vest­ments and the jobs of nearly 200 in­di­vid­u­als. We there­fore had no al­ter­na­tive but to file a claim for a re­view by the Court of the de­ci­sion of the DCA to ap­prove this de­vel­op­ment plan with­out any proper con­sul­ta­tion with us or with­out any con­sid­er­a­tion of the ef­fect of these build­ings on our op­er­a­tions and prop­erty.

Whilst San­dals was un­der­tak­ing its con­struc­tion works, we found that San­dals had com­menced con­struc­tion on our prop­erty. The Land­ings had no choice but to protest this de­vel­op­ment and take what­ever le­gal ac­tion nec­es­sary to pro­tect the Land­ings Re­sort and the long term em­ploy­ment of all its Saint Lu­cian staff, and to en­sure proper dis­cus­sions and ne­go­ti­a­tions could take place be­tween The Land­ings and San­dals. We are not averse to a ho­tel de­vel­op­ment on our north­ern bound­ary and our ac­tion was in no way meant to jeop­ar­dize or hin­der the em­ploy­ment of Saint Lu­cian con­struc­tion work­ers as has been sug­gested.

It is un­for­tu­nate that due process was not fol­lowed, whereby the con­cerns of both sides would have been con­sid­ered dur­ing the plan­ning stages of the San­dals La Source project. This would have al­le­vi­ated the need for any le­gal pro­ceed­ings.

The Land­ings man­age­ment and staff har­bor no ill will against San­dals or it var­i­ous devel­op­ments and The Land­ings’ only in­ter­est is en­sur­ing that fair and frank ne­go­ti­a­tions pro­ceed to the mu­tual ben­e­fit of both re­sorts.

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