No to College complex

2017-11-01 13:45
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Going aerial at Camps Drift

Adrenaline junkies took advantage of the high water levels to go aerial on a wakeboard over Ernie Pearce Weir. A crew of waveskaters was scouting for extreme spots to shoot scenes for Istudiomo, a film about wakeboarding that will be released in December. The athletes were pulled by a winch under the College Road bridge, surfed the flat waters of Camps Drift briefly before flying over the weir.

Residents and business owners on College Road are fighting the proposed establishment of what appears to be a multi-storey shopping complex by the Msunduzi Municipality.

The City is planning to demolish four vacant residential sites on College Road to erect the shopping complex which, according to plans, would contain underground parking, a petrol station, six shops, apartment units and possibly offices.

Residents and businesses have been served with notices of the City’s plan to rezone some residential space into a general business zone, where the establishment would be built.

A dedicated Facebook page which was set up regarding this issue has nearly 60 “likes”.

Business owners had formally submitted objections to the City, which centre around an increase in traffic congestion on the already busy College Road and surrounding roads.

They also questioned the need for a petrol station in the area, since there are about 10 petrol stations within a three-kilometre radius.

On Friday, the City will host a public hearing at the City Hall about this development.

Justin Maskell, who co-owns several businesses on College Road, said the new development could cause extreme congestion on the narrow roads and tight parking spots on College and surrounding roads.

Maskell said he was not opposed to new businesses in the area, but feared that this particular proposal would have an adverse effect on the area.

“It might even improve our business, but this area won’t handle the cars. There are four schools in the vicinity, and children walk up and down here. It will be unsafe.”

City spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha did not respond directly to questions, but said the application was being considered by Msunduzi and was not yet finalised. In a document detailing responses to the objections by businesses, it is argued that there was a need for “additional commercial facilities and a petrol filling station” in the area.

It said the residential developments in the area coupled with City plans for the nearby Alexandra Road to be a rapid transport route rendered the new petrol station necessary.

It added that a traffic impact assessment was undertaken by a traffic engineer, which found the roads can accommodate the traffic that the new development would bring.

The document denied pedestrian safety, including that of school children, would be compromised, and added that such establishments — with “high quality shops” — could increase property values. But Maskell remained unconvinced. “The traffic impact assessment said about 90 cars would pass through these roads. There’s no way it can handle that... Right now [on Tuesday], it’s so busy and it’s a Tuesday afternoon.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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