Hilton ‘will lose its charm’

2017-08-29 13:46
Pam Passmoor stands in Hilton Village.

Pam Passmoor stands in Hilton Village. (Ian Carbutt)

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Hilton residents have raised serious concerns that with major developments coming up in the area, their village will lose some of its charm and experience more power outages and bigger traffic jams.

Most residents who relocated to Hilton said they chose the area as it was far away enough from the city and held a “village feel and look”.

But now they fear that developers have identified their “little village” as the perfect spot for prospective developments.

CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business Melanie Veness explained that development was a balancing act between the divergent needs and wants of people and between preservation and advancement.

“People are going to be affected by development, some positively and some negatively. It’s unavoidable. And development necessitates change.

“If you have decent work and a comfortable home, then you are very likely to resist change because change is uncomfortable, but when one considers the unemployment rate, one must acknowledge that it is not equally comfortable for everyone,” Veness said.

She said she was advised by the municipality that there was sufficient capacity to accommodate the new development in Hilton.

“The ongoing power outages in Hilton have been attributed to ageing infrastructure and situational challenges. If this is indeed the case, then we can see no reason why responsible development should be opposed,” Veness said.

Resident Margaret Lake said she had been living in Hilton for 30 years and, until recently, experienced very few power outages. She said she feared that the Midlands town will no longer be called “the village in the country”.

Lake also raised concerns regarding the poor electricity infrastructure in the area that “already cannot sustain those who are here”.

“I do not know why anyone would want to come and live or run a business in Hilton under the circumstances of the power outages we have had. But building is going on willy-nilly,” she said.

Lake added that traffic had increased tremendously over the years and she expressed fear that with more developments planned for the area, their village would soon disappear between office blocks and shopping centres.

“We already have quite a few new office blocks which are, in the main, almost empty. Hilton Avenue, where we now live, is becoming a business area with houses being converted into offices.

“So why do we need another shopping centre and offices?” Lake asked.

Chairperson for the Hilton Ratepayers Association (HRA) Trystan Banger said it was true that infrastructure maintenance and expansion in the area has not kept pace with local development.

Banger said that the HRA had established a task team with various local experts heading portfolios of technical, legal, institutional, political and commercial elements. “This team has been hard at work for several weeks and is gradually establishing short-, medium- and long-term goals, and formal and informal communications with the authorities and service providers,” he said.

He added that a major issue that needed attention in Hilton’s growing area was wastewater treatment and effluent disposal “which if left in abeyance will ultimately constrain growth and development in the area”.

Hilton councillor Pam Passmoor said that as much as everyone would love to continue living in the village, it was “inevitable” that development would take place.

She said that every city had a growing population and it was “just the way things are”.

“I understand and agree with the concerns raised by residents but it is what it is and there will always be developers looking to build the next best thing,” she said.

Among some of the new developments expected for the area is a 30-unit Hilton Business Park, which will be developed in the quarry area of the town.

The development, which comprises mini-factory or small retail manufacturing properties, is being developed by Pietermaritzburg-based Profile Property. The units are sold out, and construction is expected to start towards the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Profile Property said they were doing as much as they could to ensure the development fitted in with the aesthetics of the village, and, for instance, it would be built in red face brick, include gables and would have cottage window panes.

He said the development was sold out due to strong demand as there had been no mini-factory type developments in Hilton for a very long time.

Grant Smith, development director at construction and property development group JT Ross, said they had been meeting a range of stakeholders and neighbours over the past six weeks, such as the Life Hilton Private Hospital, schools and housing estates, to discuss the progress being made on a major project — the Mondi Hilton development.

The development, stretching over 23 hectares, will mainly comprise a residential estate, a relatively small retail component that will stretch over about 8 000 square metres, and offices if there is demand for them, said Smith.

He said, however, that actual construction of the development was still a long way off, possibly as long as a year away, because a range of infrastructure, services and administrative processes still needed to be completed on the development.

uMngeni municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga said the development would only be able to start once the waste water treatment works have been completed. Mgaga confirmed that all environmental impact assessments and public participation stages have been completed.

Smith said while the development will have a “marked” impact on the Hilton surrounds over the highway, the planning and design was such that it would hopefully be a positive impact.

According to the Hilton Ratepayers Association, some of the other developments planned for Hilton include:

•Evergreen 1 — opposite Cowan House — residential/ retirement of about 400 units;

•Evergreen 2 — adjacent to Evergreen 1 — residential of about 850 units;

•The Larusco Development on either side of the freeway and near Summit Road – mixed-use development excluding industrial;

•The portion of the Larusco Development adjacent to Hilton Gardens which has recently been acquired by a new company and where development is expected to commence shortly;

•Erf 330 — opposite the Hilton Hotel, and the property on the corner of Azalea Drive — mixed-use developments;

• 10 small subdivisions on Portion 2 of Deeside on the Hilton College road;

•100 new subdivisions on Mount Verde;

•Proposed development of a filling station and associated facilities near the Rotunda; and

•The low income housing scheme at Khanye Village.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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