Approved Residential Schemes Guidelines
The Bermuda Government seeks to stimulate growth in Bermuda’s economy, and in particular within the Island’s 3 Economic Empowerment Zones (EEZs – Northeast Hamilton, Somerset, and St. George’s), by widening the scope of potential investment through providing for the creation and support of Residential Approved Schemes. In line with the Government’s commitments contained in the 2017 Platform; the 2017 and 2018 Throne Speeches; and the 2018/2019 Budget Statement, suitable approved schemes will address economic inequality; stimulate economic growth; and empower entrepreneurs.
EEZs are designated geographical areas where special programmes are implemented to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons to achieve equal opportunity. An EEZ is achieved through developing and implementing a system of policies to close the gaps of inequity that exist in certain designated geographical areas in comparison to other areas in Bermuda. The work that takes place in an EEZ is focused on striking a balance between the economic environment (economic equality); the social environment (access to services); the physical environment (high quality design); and the community environment (good quality of life). The BEDC was tasked with partnering with others in order to establish and regenerate EEZs across Bermuda. This includes working with key stakeholders to address local community issues; providing economic tools to help local businesses thrive; and engaging external partners to invest in these zones.
Approved Residential Schemes are essentially development proposals either fully comprised of residential units or mixed-uses comprised of commercial spaces and residential units. Given the most recent approval of the North-East Hamilton Local Plan 2022 prepared by the Department of Planning with partnership involvement of the BEDC, as now the operable plan regulating the development and use of land in North-East Hamilton, an economic development tool such as the Approved Residential Schemes provides a tangible mechanism and pathway to bring the development vision and objectives of the local plan to life within the EEZ.
Amendments made in 2019 to the Economic Development Act 1968 allowed for the designation of Approved Residential Schemes within the EEZs as well as the removal of restrictions allowing non-Bermudians to purchase residential units forming part of an Approved Residential Scheme. The amendments now permit a restricted person, both local companies and exempted companies, to purchase any unit (freehold property, condominium, or tourist accommodation) that forms part of an Approved Residential Scheme, without restriction. This also applies to the rental of property. This increases the potential participants in the Approved Residential Scheme, and in doing so further diversifies the scope of potential demand for residential units in the EEZs through an Approved Residential Scheme development.
These Guidelines will function as one of a range of economic development tools to facilitate economic development and regeneration within the EEZs. One of the identified barriers which prevented previous approved development projects from progressing past the planning approval stage, was access to the right supportive economic development tools and processes to facilitate conversion of developer interest into reality. We believe that the implementation of the Approved Residential Schemes will assist in removing those barriers.
The Guidelines set out the policy for Approved Residential Schemes and the process for applying to the Minister for a development project. To offset the potential negative impact of the EEZ regeneration, when reviewing an application the Minister shall consider affordability as well as how the development project will prevent the displacement of current lower income residents and persons currently operating businesses in the area.
Anyone interested in learning more about the opportunities within the EEZs or the Approved Residential Schemes can contact BEDC at email@example.com or 292-5570.