Civic against River Club plan

Edwin Angless, Observatory Civic Association (OCA) spokesperson

Regarding the upcoming Heritage Western Cape (HWC) Tribunal hearing on October 18.

The OCA has detailed its concerns regarding the proposed River Club development in a lengthy response sent to the HWC Tribunal.

In the main, we believe the development is far too dense and high for the setting and will result in the imposition of a design that is huge, monolithic and will forever destroy the sense of open space for which the site is currently zoned, not to mention the profoundly negative impact on an extremely ecologically sensitive wetland, notwithstanding the intent of the site owners.

Moreover, as proposed, the development will annihilate the intangible heritage associated with the site, viz the legacy of pre-colonial and colonial habitation of the area by indigenous peoples.

The heritage assessment on which the application is predicated is severely flawed, has been rejected by both the Khoi leadership and by HWC, as grossly inadequate.

If the development goes ahead it will concretise a flood-plain of high heritage significance for the peoples of South Africa.

It is allowing private gain at the expense of highly significant heritage resources, which our national laws should protect.

The developers appear intent on pursuing their application even though HWC, mandated by national law, has indicated a thorough study, properly attuned to all the relevant heritage indicators, is needed to grade the site before development can even be considered.

The development will also have adverse impacts on the biological diversity of the area and we are worried about the impact of this huge construction on the hydrology of the flood plain, which will almost certainly result in increased flooding of surrounding areas, particularly since the current hydrology report used in the BAR has ignored the likely sea rise with climate change and chosen to use outdated figures for temperature changes under climate change for their modelling.

If the developers were to respond sensitively to the many community concerns, perhaps our position would be different. .

A public park or a mixed use environment with reasonable architectural design that fits with the open space and includes some affordable, well-located housing, linked to public access would be of great benefit.

Any new development must be in the context of a proper plan for the Whole Two River Urban Park precinct that takes account of the heritage, ecological, social and other issues raised at the Ministerial Tribunal.