Hilton set for major changes

2012-05-31 00:00

THE uMngeni Council has refused permission for light industrial development in the proposed Hilton-Mondi development, but approved commercial and residential projects subject to certain conditions.

This comes after a process of almost two years, including public opposition and extensive technical investigation of bulk services, environmental and traffic impacts, and job creation.

The acting uMngeni municipal manager, Steve Smith, told councillors they were about to “make history” as the development proposal “has the potential to be the biggest single investment into Hilton, and possibly the rest of the municipality. “Unless carefully managed, it also has the potential to irrevocably change the character of Hilton, and not necessarily for the better.”

The lengthy report and recommendations passed by the council refused permission for any light industrial development proposed for a 38-hectare site north of the N3 across from Cedara College.

It found that industrial development was inappropriate for Hilton in terms of the N3 Corridor Management Plan and noted that most public objections were aimed at the industrial component. It also noted that permission for activities associated with “light industry” had already been refused in September last year by the Agriculture, Environment Affairs and Rural Development Department, and that land identified for industrial development already existed closer to Mpophomeni, the area with the most employment needs.

The council approved the development of a business park east of the Cedara Road/N3 interchange, which it said was “compatible” with existing development in the area and with national and regional development plans.

Also approved, subject to conditions, are business and office park developments either side of the N3 between the Hilton and Cedara interchanges, and adjacent to the Hilton conservancy and wetlands south of the N3.

The development of a shopping centre, Hilton Stables, beside Hilton College Road opposite Grace College in Hilton Gardens was also approved subject to conditions. Permission for a hotel was denied and the developers were required to apply for separate rezoning as their current proposal was not specific about its location.

The residential development zone on Dennis Shepstone Drive was also approved.

Conditions attached to the approval of the plan are:

• That bulk sewage, water and electricity services be provided by the developers, Umgungundlovu District Municipality, Eskom and Msunduzi Municipality.

• Access to the business and office parks will be from Cedara Road via the old disused main road, which must be upgraded, and the underpass beneath the highway widened. The old road parallel to the railway line and the Hilton wetland north of the N3 must be turned into a pedestrian and cycle path.

• Adequate storm water measures be put in place to protect Wedgewood adjacent to the shopping centre site.

Smith assured the Hilton community that their views were being taken into account.

Democratic Alliance councillor Pam Passmoor agreed, saying: “Today, the voice of Hilton residents was heard when the decision was taken by the council not to allow the light industrial component of the development. The further restrictive conditions will ensure that this project is in the best interests of the further development of Hilton.” However, she cautioned that developers whose projects were turned down will appeal the council’s decision.

In an e-mailed statement, Neels Brink, managing director of developers Arctic Sun welcomed the approvals. “With environmental approval already obtained, and the council approval of rezoning and subdivision in terms of the Planning and Development Act, planning approvals are in place to commence actively marketing.”

The proposed Hilton-Mondi development spreads over more than 100 hectares in five nodes in and around Hilton. The developers proposed a four-phase plan over 10 years to build a light industrial zone, office and business parks, a retail zone and housing.

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