Final stitches to dress the Princess

2015-05-05 06:00

After more than ten years, the Dressing the Princess Project has finally been put to paper. The future of the project now lies in the hands of the Cape Town City Council, who will have to decide whether the City would be willing to fork out the money to make the project come to life.

The project was initiated by Kelvin Cochrane who subsequently wrote an “extensive report” on the issue.

Cochrane says he worked alongside the City of Cape Town’s caring and managing public open spaces (Camps) department to materialise the proposed plan for Princess Vlei.

“I am extremely excited about this project. I call it lego for adults,” Cochrane says.

Over the past decade, in an attempt to halt the plans to build a mall at the heritage site, Cochrane says he was mandated to come up with a plan for Princess Vlei.

“We were tasked by the City to come up with a plan to use the space alternatively. And now this is finally on paper after we spoke to all residents who will be affected – from the bergie to the doctor – and our end result is something to be excited about.”

He adds it was important to create a space where people can come together and enjoy the natural environment at the vlei but also to enjoy a “world-class tourist attraction”.

“For too long people have been excluded from making decisions on how open spaces should be used in our city, especially in less wealthy areas. With this plan it will be a linkage between the rich area and the Cape Flats. This is our ultimate goal,” Cochrane adds.

He says the plan with the space is to “create a botanical garden for the people of the Cape Flats.”

Cochrane and his team who spearheaded the project have come up with a concept detailing a craft market village which will give small businesses from the area an opportunity to sell their goods.

The space will consist of various container structures which has a lifespan of more than 50 years.

“We took the communities’ concerns and opinions to heart and together with that we have come up with a plan that integrates the needs and interests of all,” Cochrane says.

He adds it is important that the soil and natural ecosystem at the site are not negatively affected by any building on the site.

“The initial concern and why the mall was boycotted at the vlei was because it would impact on the soil. With the people’s plan we have created, no concrete will be used at all. We are ultimately fusing green spaces with urban spaces,” he explains.

“Included in the benefits of the proposed plan, various new facilities will be added at the vlei which will be situated 30 metres from the water’s edge.

“We also have a management plan in place which includes a safety aspect. It will ensure safety to the patrons of this site and includes a security system where surveillance cameras will be in place,” he says.

Cochrane adds to save on costs at the facility, they will minimise costs by operating off a self-sustainable grid.

“The proposed plan will make optimal use of the vlei which includes a self-sustainable solar power system as well as a fully self-sustainable ablution facility.

“This will definitely be a benefit because the space will be off the City grid,” he explains.

Asked on how much the proposed plan would cost if it should be given approval, Cochrane said it could be “anywhere in the region of R88 million.

“We are in the process of getting funding for this project, but it has to be presented to the City first. We are hoping that they come on-board with this idea.”

Cochrane concludes: “I think our biggest take on this project was that we have a vision for it. We know this is going to work and there is no reason it cannot be done.”


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