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Princess Margaret Beach in jeopardy

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13.MAR.09

Editor: Princess Margaret Beach at Tony Gibbon Bay, Bequia, has been a pristine gem of a beach without any form of development until a beach bar and jetty were built at its northern end about 20 months ago. Some say that this development changed the character of the beach and took away its pristine nature at that end, others say that this was a welcome facility for beach users and the ever-present yachts.{{more}}

Now there are plans to further change the unspoiled nature of this beach. There is a pending development by Havelock West, St. Vincent Ltd. to construct a restaurant and 28 villas along the beach, as well as 32 apartment units ranging from 1-bedroom to 5- bedrooms, spread throughout the hillside. This will be accompanied by the usual Health Spas, Resident Club, water sport facility, etc. all on19 acres with about 1,000 feet of beachfront.

The proposal for this development can be viewed by googling Havelock West Bequia Development. You may be shocked or even appalled at the structures straddling the beach in this web site presentation but they appeared to be scaled back in the proposal submitted for planning approval. Keeping it on their web site brings negative publicity as already started on the travel review site, ‘Trip Advisor’

The scale and nature of the hillside apartments and villas are quite pleasing along with the promise to preserve most of the trees and plant a few more, however there are still some disturbing aspects to the proposal.

There is a jetty down at the southern end (the cave end) with a restaurant out on the end of it and there is another restaurant of a massive proportion at the northern end very close to the beach, both sending a subtle message that the beach in front of the development is exclusive to it.

While it may be a great marketable feature to have an exclusive beach in front of a 19 acre development, Princess Margaret is not the beach for this. Any kind of structure or impediment that can legally, or by persuasive negotiation, be placed at either end of the development to deter other beach users, or to send a signal that this is an exclusive beach, should not be entertained

The jetty with on-board restaurant should not be there at all, not in a bay of such remarkable beauty, the larger restaurant gives the beach an all too developed look. There is a well established tree line between 15 and 50 ft from the high water line which should be maintained to screen the development and maintain the pristine nature of the beach.

Princess Margaret beach is one of our prime natural attractions and a beach regularly used by tourists and residents of the Island. Many of the smaller accommodation owners as well as tourism administrations and associations have, for many years, promoted this beach in their brochures and websites as a prime attraction. To have it now appear to be the domain of a large resort, simply because they are located adjacent to it, is the last thing we would want.

While the island, and the state as a whole, can benefit economically by developments that boast expanded facilities and greater room numbers than the typical small single owner accommodation, this development must be done with some sensitivity to the existing natural landscape. There should be some respect for the way other stakeholders, visitors and residents use and depend on the very attractions that the developer seeks to effect for their own benefit.

We must be careful that we do not destroy the attractions and way of life that have always brought a large percentage of repeat visitors back to this Island.

Mike Connell
Bequia Watch connellmic@gmail.com

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