Newlands development still on track despite lockdown setback

Newlands (Gallo Images)
Newlands (Gallo Images)

The highly-publicised construction development at Newlands cricket stadium has taken "a hell of a knock" because of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, but plans are in place to ensure that it is completed. 

That was the word from outgoing Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) CEO Nabeal Dien on Wednesday. 

Dien is set to step down from his role at the end of the month but he has been heavily involved in the logistics surrounding the development, which has been reported as being worth as much as R750 million. 

The project was first announced in March 2019 and, since then, Varsity College and the sports management department of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) have been confirmed as tenants. 

According to Dien, the two tenants are still fully on board with the project while a third - a high-profile IT firm - is set to sign a deal that would see them occupy "around 75%" of the letting space.

"It's obviously been a hell of a knock, for everybody, but for the construction itself. It was very much on course, maybe slightly behind, but nothing problematic. This has obviously impacted it," Dien told media in a video press conference on Wednesday. 

"I spoke to the development manager this morning and he feels fairly confident that they will still put it right, but they can only really go back to full term construction at level two."

Dien added that the developers had made a special appeal to government to try and get a third of their work force on site to continue with the project. 

"There is no crisis yet. Normally with a construction of that size, there is a lot of behind the scenes work in terms of engineering and architecture," he added.

"This lockdown has proved useful to catch up with all that work and it has in fact caught up.

"The intention is to try and do 24 hour shifts the moment they get back. The big question is, when?"

Dien said the project would still be on track as long as construction resumed by the end of May with Varsity College looking to occupy their new office space from December this year. 

"Anything beyond that, we're going to have problems and the problems will be that we won't be able to deliver a building to Varsity College in time," he said. 

The development made further headlines in September last year when Cricket South Africa (CSA) placed the WPCA under administration for its administrative and financial running of the project. 

That matter was legally resolved when WPCA emerged victorious in an arbitration hearing. 

According to Dien, those issues have been put to bed. 

"Those issues are mended, I think. They are our partner and that is my take," he said.

"They are an investor in the project and we have to have a relationship that is positive and constructive. Besides that, they are also our mother body."

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