Upgrade looms for Vlei

2016-06-14 10:55
A father and son enjoy a day out at Princess Vlei which will be upgraded in the coming months to make it even more user friendly after the finalisation the Conceptual Development Framework.

A father and son enjoy a day out at Princess Vlei which will be upgraded in the coming months to make it even more user friendly after the finalisation the Conceptual Development Framework. (TIYESE JERANJI)

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The Princess Vlei Forum is over the moon after the City of Cape Town finalised the Conceptual Development Framework (CDF) for the greater Princess Vlei Conservation Area, paving the way for the implementation of significant improvements to the vlei.

Forum secretary Lorna Houston says: “This is an important step in realising the community’s vision for a nature and heritage park at Princess Vlei. This finalisation means the vlei can be upgraded as suggested by the community.”

Topping their priority list is to have a children’s play park, a walkway around the vlei, and improved braai and picnic areas, which are seen as very urgent by the community.
The plan also allows for other community suggestions, such as elements to celebrate the Khoisan heritage of the site, features to facilitate baptism, a craft or fresh produce market, and improving the environmental health of the water and surrounding banks.

“Our aim is to ensure that all of these improvements will be rolled out over time. However, at this stage the funds for capital investment in the precinct are extremely limited. We would like to urge the City to make funding available, and are ourselves in the process of exploring alternative sources of funding such as corporate sponsorship and private donors. Any suggestions from community members on rallying resources would be most welcome.”

The framework comes after two years of negotiation with the City, after the plans to develop a mall at Princess Vlei were scrapped in March 2014. At this time the Princess Vlei Forum presented the City with “Imagine Princess Vlei” – a vision for Princess Vlei that had been developed with the community through discussions, surveys, workshops and other processes.
“The past two years have been spent in negotiating the plan for Princess Vlei, and negotiating a memorandum of agreement empowering the forum to represent community interests in the development and management of the area. This was finalised in December last year,” says Houston.

In August last year the City released a draft concept development framework (CDF) based on the Imagine Princess Vlei vision, as well as input from other community and City stakeholders, which set out principles to guide development at the vlei. The draft was presented to the public for discussion at the City’s open day, and at a workshop hosted by the Princess Vlei Forum where community members and stakeholders discussed the plan and suggested improvements.
City planners incorporated community feedback, and presented the finalised CDF to forum members for discussion on 4 April. After further adjustments it was tabled for comment at the subcouncil 20 meeting in May, where forum members urged the subcouncil to incorporate Princess Vlei projects in their ongoing budget discussions, and to support the overall development of the eastern shore for the benefit of the community.

William Leith, deputy chair of the Princess Vlei Forum, reflected that “the meeting went very well”
“Since the decision to scrap the plans for the shopping mall, we have been able to develop a cordial and collaborative relationship with the City.”

Belinda Walker, mayoral committee member for community services and special projects, says the finalisation of the CDF is a step which both the City of Cape Town and the Princess Vlei Forum welcome. “The process leading to the development of the CDF has allowed us to better understand key priorities that will help to restore Princess Vlei into a safe and family-oriented recreational space. We truly value the hard work undertaken by the Princess Vlei Forum and their continued dedication to this project. The City is committed to working together with communities to plan the spaces which they will use and treasure, both now and in the future. A collaborative approach secures community input at every stage of the process and this is essential to ensure the City can meet the communities’ needs, as far as possible,’’ says Walker.

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