Countdown for Hilton development verdict

2013-02-04 00:00

AFTER two days of hearings last week, the countdown begins on the judgement of the Planning Development Act (PDA) Appeals Tribunal regarding objections to the uMngeni Municipality’s approval of the Hilton-Mondi development by Lauresco Developments.

The initial proposal was for the development of five separate sites spread over 80 hectares, four of them located around the Hilton and Cedara N3 interchanges. Developments proposed included warehousing, light industrial estates, a business park, a shopping centre and residential housing.

The proposal was conditionally approved by the uMngeni Municipality last May.

The light industrial component was rejected in the record of decision from the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, while a later decision permitting this component to be developed as a business park was rejected by the municipality, which also refused the surety of a bank guarantee in respect of the site development.

Among those appealing the municipality’s approval on Thursday and Friday last week were the Hilton Ratepayers Association, Wedgewood Estate, Winterskloof Conservancy, the Mkondeni-Mpushini Trust, the Garlington Development Trust and the Garlington Homeowners Association.

“Hilton has a unique ambience,” said Guy Smith, representing the Garlington Development Trust. “It is a rural transitional zone with a very special atmosphere.” He said developers should add to that and respect what is there, but that the proposed development ignored “what makes Hilton what it is”.

Smith was particularly opposed to the shopping centre sited opposite Grace College. “There is no need for a regional shopping centre on the scale of the Liberty Midlands Mall.”

“I would like to see Hilton developed, but I would like to see it developed appropriately.”

Jan van der Vegte, town planner: Shared Services in uMngeni Municipality, denied accusations that the public participation process had been ignored, stating that it had directly fed into the municipality’s decision making. Van der Vegte said the development would assist in improving municipal infrastructure and the construction of new sewage works as part of the development would benefit the whole area.

On Friday, following his submission on Thursday, lawyer Jeremy Ridl, representing several of the appellants, presented a revised document to the appeals tribunal listing the main objections to the proposed development.

At the close of proceedings, T.G. Nkosi, presiding officer of the PDA appeals tribunal, said members of the tribunal would review this document before making their decision. A decision is expected on Monday, February 11.

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