Public participation – both formal and informal – has formed the very basis for the proposed development plans at the River Club by the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust. Allegations that the Trust is trying to bypass the legal requirements for public participation relating to the proposed redevelopment of the site (“River Club project still waterlogged”, People’s Post, Tuesday 27 August) are completely unfounded and untrue.
There are a number of legislated approval processes currently underway, including rezoning, heritage impact assessment and environmental approval processes, which we continue to observe and respect.
These processes have also included extensive engagement with interested and affected groups and stakeholders, which have resulted in a number of amendments to the redevelopment proposal.
And to give further meaning to our existing formal engagements, we have also had various meetings over the past three years, with a number of stakeholders, on how to memorialise the historical significance of the area and preserve and enhance the ecological environment. These have included discussions with the First Nations People’s and have been above what is prescribed by legislation.
Currently, the property is severely degraded and under-utilised. The proposed redevelopment envisages a large portion of the site being dedicated, safe recreational spaces that will be open to the public including viewing and seating areas along the clean, rehabilitated riverbank and enjoyment of the wetland and the Raapenberg Bird Sanctuary.
There will be also running and cycling pathways throughout the development, an accessible private school and developer-subsidised inclusive housing for key workers delivering essential services to the surrounding communities.
We are heartened that these engagements on the facts and benefits of the proposed redevelopment have increased support for the project from surrounding communities and interest groups. We are particularly pleased that representatives of the First Nations People’s Groups have agreed to be involved in the establishment and operation of the heritage and cultural centre that will memorialise and educate the public about past events on the site.
The project presents many exciting opportunities for the people of the Western Cape, including creating jobs and stimulating small businesses in the area.
We look forward to our continued interactions with all interested and affected groups and stakeholders over the next few weeks, while the prescribed development proposal processes are underway.