Plans for a ten-apartment two-storey building to be erected on the Railway Trail near Loughlands estate in Paget, have been approved by the Development Applications Board (DAB), despite the environmental impact concerns.

The application, submitted by developer Gilbert Lopes carries ten one-bedroom unit with a lawn area and parking for 13 vehicles and 12 motorcycles, in keeping with plans submitted in September 2019.

Objectors to the plan include the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Audubon Society.

One of the concerns raised was the proposed driveway to this development, which would cut through woodland reserve and a section of open space reserve used for farming.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Audubon Society said in an objection letter that the undeveloped land was an “oasis” for wildlife.

“Our natural spaces are finite and every parcel is precious. We cannot afford to diminish these areas bit by bit.

“The proposal under consideration is especially egregious as it will impact a rather large — for Bermuda — continuous area of undeveloped woodland and agricultural fields.

“Our flora and fauna, especially our birds, require these larger green belts to thrive. Having a wide roadway essentially bisect this special woodland area is not acceptable,” he added.

In another letter of objection, an area resident wrote: “The fact is that this proposed driveway will create extreme excavation of the area zoned as woodland reserve and will be a deep and permanent scar on the land.

“The open space reserve is currently being farmed and a precious resource like arable land should not be diminished to make room for a concrete driveway.”

Lawyer for the developer, Michelle Stone has stated that the property had a long-established right of way to connect it to Middle Road.

A planning inspector recommended that the DAB approve the application back in February despite the concerns raised saying: “The application site is a development lot with a specified development area.

“While access to the development area necessitates traversing a conservation base and two conservation areas, this is permissible since there is no alternative access or deeded right of way.”

The inspector also noted that although there were objectors to this plan, single bedroom units were needed.

“In the current economic conditions, the island does not require the construction of additional large, sprawling single family homes or condominiums. Smaller one-bedroom apartment units are in demand with the proposed encroachments offset by the provision of these units.

“Ultimately, the efficient use of lands zoned for residential purposes at higher densities of development will decrease the need for sprawl on open space.

“Whilst the department can empathise with the objectors’ views and the concerns expressed by the consulting agencies, this lot is a bona fide building lot and, regardless of whether one dwelling or ten are proposed, the impact of the access would be identical in terms of location, length and loss of tree cover, as would the clearing of the residential 2 portion of the lot for development purposes.

“Where possible and practical, conditions have been added to mitigate longer term impacts.”

The DAB granted approval for this project on March 11.