Planning board declines to enforce rule on preserving space for schools in large subdivisions

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Amid concerns about population growth and limited capacity in some schools, Grand Cayman’s Central Planning Authority has declined to enforce a provision in planning regulations that instructs developers to dedicate space for schools in large new subdivisions.

Regulation 30 of the Development and Planning Regulations states that in new subdivisions, for every 400 families a site of about 3 acres shall be reserved for a primary school, and for every 2,000 families a site of about 7 acres shall be reserved for a secondary school. This regulation has existed since at least 2005.

On two occasions last year when the Department of Planning brought this regulation to the planning board’s attention, instead of enforcing the rule, members generally deferred responsibility for the provision of education to the Cayman Islands government and/or local private school system.

In June 2021, the board considered an application by Lookout Holdings Ltd. to create a 154-acre subdivision in Bodden Town, adjacent to the existing Lookout Gardens development.

The application calls for the creation of 437 residential lots, which range in size from 10,000 square feet (suitable for a single-family or semi-detached home) to 34,560 square feet (suitable for a small apartment complex).

The Department of Environment expressed concerns that a development of this size would have a significant impact on existing ‘social infrastructure’, including schools. In its analysis, the Department of Planning brought up Regulation 30 for the board’s consideration.

As of September 2021, the nearby Theoline L. McCoy Primary School was at 70% of its maximum capacity, with room available for about 112 additional students. Clifton Hunter High School was at 92% capacity, with space for 75 more students.

The board approved Lookout Holdings’ application for the new subdivision, stating that “the provision of schools is the responsibility of Government or the private school sector”.

In March 2021, the board considered an application by Ergun Berksoy to create a 53-acre mixed-use subdivision off Shamrock Road in Prospect, between Selkirk Drive and Admirals Avenue and behind Red Bay Primary School and the Lighthouse School.

The application called for the creation of 5 apartment lots, 1 neighbourhood commercial lot and 74 residential lots.

It is unclear whether this subdivision would contain homes for more than 400 families, even if the developer ends up building the maximum number of apartment units and/or builds duplexes instead of single-family houses. However, the Department of Planning did bring up Regulation 30 for the board’s consideration.

In its decision to approve the application, the board stated, “The Authority notes that the Red Bay Primary School is adjacent to the subdivision and this satisfies Regulation 30. Further, the need for another school site in the area would be subject to Government policy and the interest of the private school system.”

Red Bay Primary is at 81% capacity and has available seats for about 97 students.

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