By Patrick Cull
A TASK team led by Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile is considering buying or even expropriating the popular Walmer Country Club to expand the city’s congested Walmer township – scene of several recent violent service delivery protests.
The task team has also set its sights on a multimillion-rand property in the industrial area in Airport Valley near the airport owned by Irish property mogul Ken Denton, as well as environmentally-sensitive land in Madiba Bay which encompasses the Driftsands and Cape Recife-Sardinia Bay coast.
However the shock Walmer Service Delivery Intervention Plan – a copy of which was leaked to Weekend Post – drawn up after a meeting with the community last month, points out that there has been “no interaction between the municipality and the property owner” [Walmer Country Club], a fact confirmed by club president Mark Anschutz yesterday.
However, should negotiations occur and subsequently fail, the municipality could look into the possibility of land expropriation, the plan states. It also notes that no provision has been made in the budget for the acquisition of the land, and that a “preliminary minimum estimate” of four to six years is likely before any development can start.
The proposal outlines a number of short and longer term interventions geared at addressing challenges within the Walmer township community that exploded into violent protests in the past few months.
Councillors who met with residents reported that the community had vehemently rejected a densified layout in the township, with the human settlements committee saying it was “left with no option but to consider various portions of private land in Walmer”.
Although Walmer ANC councillor Nomajama Benya was not aware of what was contained in the document, she confirmed that the residents of the formal and informal sections of the township had requested the municipality to relocate them.
“There are six informal areas in Walmer township. Even though not all Walmer township residents will be relocated, about 6 000 will have to be relocated,” she said.
“There is the possibility that property rates in nearby areas can drop. However it is very, very necessary for the residents to be relocated. With the heavy rains the residents in the informal settlements always struggle.”
In respect of the Walmer Country Club, the plan moots “a continuous corridor” of high density residential development along the western side of Victoria Drive, “stretching from Walmer Links to Glendore Road”.
The valuation of the golf club is R34.9-million but it was “likely that a valuation of this property will be in the region of R50- to R100-million”, the document says.
However, it goes on to say that “should the negotiation route not be favoured, an expropriation can be considered”.
The document also warns that the development of the property “may attract opposition” which could result in delays in both the rezoning and sub-division, as well as the EIA processes and any appeals that may result.
In the interim, the municipality is moving ahead with accessing funds for the rectification of properties in Walmer township and has outlined a detailed plan of interventions aimed at addressing the issues raised by the community, although there are obstacles such as the refusal of the airport authorities to allow the erection of high mast lights.
Mayor Wayile could not be reached for comment.
Additional reporting by Shaanaaz de Jager
This is a version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday July 28 2012.
Article source: http://theweekendpost.com/2012/07/30/4069/