Hotel, offices plan for mall

2008-04-10 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality’s Executive Committee (Exco) has approved the third phase of the expansion of the award-winning Liberty Midlands Mall, which is planned to include a hotel, offices and a “value retail centre”.

The municipality hopes that the development of a hotel will help attract visitors during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. There is a shortage of hotel accommodation in the city at present.

More than a year ago, Liberty Group Properties (Pty) submitted a proposal to council to purchase land adjoining property on Sanctuary Road for their third phase.

Due to the enactment of the Municipal Finance Management Act and its implications for property disposal, Liberty Life was advised that the matter could not be dealt with until council had compiled and adopted a land disposal policy, which the municipality has since adopted.

In February, Liberty Life reinforced their interest in purchasing land from council.

At present, 25 houses rented to council employees by the Msunduzi Housing Association (MHA) occupy 1,75 ha of the land.

Liberty Life has offered to purchase the land for R10 million, with R2,5 million as a contribution towards the relocation of tenants. However, the municipality wants Liberty to bear the total cost of the relocation of the tenants.

City manager Rob Haswell said that council has already begun to identify possible places for the tenants in the area.

Eager to get the third phase off the ground, Haswell had to apologise to ward councillor Mark Steele (Democratic Alliance), when he revealed that he was never consulted about the relocation of the tenants.

Steele recommended that the item be stood down, as consultation on the proposal was inadequate.

“As the ward councillor in the area, I have only heard rumours about the proposal. My ward committee has had no correspondence with the municipality in this regard and it would be wrong for the tenants to be relocated without proper consultation,” he said.

Haswell admitted that it was inappropriate that Steele was not consulted, and that the proper channels to getting the report before Exco were not properly followed. “The proposal has been circulating for a while between council, the MHA and the Liberty Group.

“The land disposal policy held up the process, but we assure you that there will be proper consultation in future. Due to the urgency to secure a hotel for the 2010 build-up, we have had to move quickly,” said Haswell.

Earlier this year, it was estimated that 75 shops were on the waiting list to occupy the expanded mall. Liberty Properties managing director, Caswell Rampheri, was not able to get back to The Witness on details of the mall expansion and plans to manage increased traffic afterwards.

Despite having won an award for its unique traffic arrangement in 2004, the mall has during peak hours struggled with traffic congestion.

In 2005, the municipality and mall management met to devise ways of managing traffic when the mall expanded. Boom gates were put further away from traffic circles so that cars going in would not block those going out.

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