St Helena’s humble wirebird may help developers create “the world’s greenest hotel” on the mellow slopes of Broad Bottom.
Plans for the so-called Wirebird Hills leisure resort – complete with eco-friendly golf course – are going on show on the island after more than a decade of refinement by the St Helena Leisure Corporation (Shelco).
Features such as grass roofs and water recycling are now being used widely in new buildings around the world. But the ideas for protecting the wirebird and re-establishing native trees and plants are what set the scheme apart.
They include trying to control rats, which steal wirebird eggs and prey on their chicks. Broad Bottom is one of the last strongholds of the unique St Helena Plover, as it is also known, but no chicks were successfully raised in the area in 2011, and predators are probably to blame.
Sheep would be used to graze the golf course and other land, to bring grass down to the length favoured by wirebirds.
An environmental impact assessment says there would be no “significant adverse impact” from any aspect of the scheme, even to the island’s landscape. Buildings would largely be confined to the edges of the site, where they can be screened with trees.
Plans submitted by the St Helena Leisure Corporation (Shelco) also include growing more fresh food for the whole island, as well as for the proposed 88-suite hotel and 165 holiday homes.
They also deal with historical aspects of the site, which was used as a camp for Boer War prisoners between 1899 and 1903. An interpretation centre and cafe is planned at the top of the site.
The former flax mill at Broad Bottom Farm has been earmarked as a maintenance building for the golf course. Machinery from the mill would be donated for a proposed “flax visitor centre” elsewhere on the island – though there is scepticism about whether this “private sector opportunity” will ever be realised.
The plans are to go on show at public meetings across the island from 14 May 2012:
- Blue Hill Community Centre, Monday, 5.30 – 7.30pm
- Half Tree Hollow Community Centre, Tuesday, 5 – 7pm
- Longwood Community Centre, Wednesday, 5 – 7pm
- Consulate Hotel, Jamestown, Thursday 5 – 7pm
An 82-page document sets out details of the proposed golf course, swimming pools, tennis courts, market garden, buggy paths, holiday villages, lemon groves and a “Garden of Eden”.
It follows the signing of a “memorandum of agreement” with St Helena Government, setting out a detailed brief for the standards that must be met on the site.
The plans do not say what would happen to people living in the two existing homes on the 163-hectare site, or how it will affect people who cross the land to reach their houses.
Nor do they say whether facilities would be open to islanders and other people not staying in the resort.
Shelco was set up to exploit the economic potential of the island, based on building an airport – a contract it failed to win. Its plans for one of two luxury resorts on the island are seen as vital to creating a vibrant tourist economy and ending decades of dependence on aid.
Its chairman is Sir Nigel Thompson, a senior figure in engineering firm Ove Arup but also a keen environmentalist who has served as chair of the Council for the Protection of Rural England.
He first fell in love with St Helena half a century ago when travelling on a liner that stopped in James Bay, according to an article in Property Week.
The main report from Shelco’s consultants says:
Wirebird Hills at Broad Bottom seeks to deliver a development of international best practice for environmental responsibility and sustainability.
The overall intent is to deliver the world’s greenest hotel, with environmentally responsible leisure-related residences around a world class eco golf course.
The Wirebird Hills at Broad Bottom… will be an exemplar project on the world stage.
It is hoped that further details of the scheme – including images of the proposed buildings – will appear on this website in coming days.
Looks like a lovely plan – I hope it is made. Hee Young Ra, via Facebook
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