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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Modern 'waterfront' to transform Plett beach
TUESDAY JUL 10, 2012

Ten-year-old plans to build a small boat harbour in Plettenberg Bay appear to be coming to fruition with an invitation to residents and interested parties to take part in an environmental impact assessment for the multi-billion rand project.


The Piesang River estuary, site of the proposed small boat harbour.

Western Cape Marina Investments, which won the tender in 2002, has made good on an undertaking to proceed, releasing an information document describing plans to build the harbour in the Piesang River mouth, next to the Beacon Isle hotel.

The project includes construction of residential blocks on both sides of the river and a commercial node to replace the ramshackle wooden structure which houses Moby Dick's restaurant and adjoining buildings, transforming Plettenberg Bay's Central Beach into a modern waterfront.

In March, Bitou council put Western Cape Marina Investments on terms to take the small boat harbour project forward or lose the contract. Company owner Peter Ahern at the time said he was “definitely going ahead” and was putting together a team of experts, including marine engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and civil engineers for the development, which he said would cost between R3 billion and R4bn.

Port Elizabeth consultants CEN Integrated Environmental Management Unit will conduct an environmental impact assessment, expected to take between eight and 24 months given the raft of regulations governing construction activities in the coastal zone and near an estuary.

The public and organisations have until July 23 to register as interested or affected parties.

The shallow Piesang River estuary will require considerable dredging to make it deep enough to accommodate boats and moorings, and the harbour will be surrounded by three- to seven-storey residential buildings on the northern and southern banks of the river mouth.

Commercial and residential properties are proposed for the Central Beach area, consisting of multi-storey buildings three to seven storeys high.


It is hoped the project will be a major boost to the struggling economy in terms of construction contracts and job and tourism opportunities.

The small boat harbour will also benefit the operators of Plettenberg Bay's whale and dolphin watching and charter fishing enterprises.

Cape Argus

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Plett beach development proposal raises objections
THURSDAY SEP 13, 2012

Environmentalists have objected to the proposed Plettenberg Bay small-boat harbour, saying intensive urbanisation of Central Beach will destroy the safest swimming beach in the town, the natural beauty of the area and suck the financial life blood out of the central business district.

If the R4-billion development, which has been 10 years in the making, goes bankrupt, maintenance of the harbour will fall to the Bitou municipality and ultimately also hit the pockets of already burdened ratepayers, they said.

The Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum yesterday said it had lodged "the strongest possible objection" to the development.

Chairwoman Julie Carlisle said apart from changing the face of the popular tourist beach, it would destroy the safest swimming beach in Plett - a favourite for children and young people.

She said parking and traffic congestion on the narrow bridge that traverses the Piesang River would be hard to address without disturbing the natural beauty of the area.

The harbour development is proposed for Central Beach and runs into the mouth of the Piesang River, which meanders to the ocean alongside the Beacon Isle hotel.

The development by Western Cape Marina Investments includes residential blocks on both sides of the river and a commercial node on the beach front. "Developments of this nature carry a high financial risk. If it succeeds, it may well suck the life out of the CBD in the same way that the construction of a mall devastated the George CBD. If it fails, not unlikely in the current financial climate, tourism in Plett might be dealt a death blow," Carlisle said.

She said if the small boat harbour went bankrupt, the municipality would have to take over maintenance of the waterfront, which could "only be funded by the ratepayers".

The forum also raised concerns about proposals for seven-storey high buildings, both commercial and residential, along the river banks and beach front, buildings situated below the 50-year flood line and the massive dredging that would be required to deepen the river mouth, affecting marine life.

Bitou municipality recently spent R30 million to build a desalination plant with intake wells in the river mouth. "Are we to assume that all that money was just wasted? What if we enter another drought, how do we cope?" Carlisle asked.

Mike Cohen, the Port Elizabeth consultant appointed to do the EIA, said the comments received during the public participation phase were being analysed so that they could be addressed in the scoping and environmental assessment phase. He said although he had not counted the number of initial responses, a large number of important issues had been identified, with "perhaps the major one being the height of the buildings and impacts on Central Beach".

Cape Argus

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Scoping report supports Plett harbour property development
MONDAY APR 22, 2013

A small-boat harbour would have many economic benefits for Plettenberg Bay, according to an assessment conducted for the project developer.

A draft scoping report on the controversial development has been submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Port Elizabeth environmental assessment practitioner Mike Cohen, on behalf of Western Cape Marina Investments, said the report investigated potential impacts on the proposed sites for the R4billion development, focusing on the Piesang estuary near the Beacon Isle hotel, the preferred site.

"The economic impact assessment evaluated the balance between financial benefits and costs, and found that although the achieving of profits for some can come at an unacceptable cost to wider society, the overall balance is in favour of the small-boat harbour and marina project...," the report states.

The harbourwould include 482 residential units in eight buildings of three to seven floors, 17 bungalows along the Central Beach strip, a 100room five-star hotel, a plaza, a yacht club and shops and offices.

Local environment groups have objected to the development, saying intensive urbanisation of Central Beach will ruin the economy of the central business district, destroy the safest swimming beach and spoil its natural beauty.

The scoping report, released late last week, says hundreds of jobs will be created for local communities. Employees could earn a total of R44 million in the first year, it says.

The report recognises potential negative effects on the estuary, many of which were raised by residents of the holiday town.

"The construction phase of the proposed development, via intrusion impacts, could spark a decrease in tourists visiting Plettenberg Bay for much of the four-year duration. Many local businesses... are very unlikely to be resilient enough, largely due to the town's cyclical economy, to survive a medium-term decrease in the size of their markets."

Respondents from less affluent areas sounded a stern warning that if foreign nationals - many of whom reside in these areas - were to be employed during the construction phase, "conflict would be inevitable" between locals and foreigners.

The report says there is potential loss of habitat for fauna in the area during the construction and operational phase, that the presence of construction vehicles and staff may disturb and or kill fauna and there is the potential loss of important estuarine habitats through dredging and reclaiming portions of the estuary.

Cohen said all registered parties had been sent an electronic copy of the executive summary and had been invited to a public open day in Plettenberg Bay on May 18 to discuss the report.

Cape Times

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Strong objections to Plett harbour property development
WEDNESDAY MAY 29, 2013


The Piesang River mouth in Plettenberg Bay, site of the proposed small-boat harbour.

The Plettenberg Bay Community Environment Forum has expressed strong objections to the development of a smallnboat harbour for the holiday town and is to support a public protest at Central Beach on Saturday.

The development is envisaged for the Piesang River mouth and Central Beach. The proposal is for eight residential buildings ranging in height from three to seven floors, penthouses, 1 343m² of offices and commercial space, a 110-room five-star hotel, 17 mansions along Central Beach, 8 700m² of retail space, a plaza and yacht club, provision for light industry, and parking bays - all in the little Piesang River mouth.

Objections came as the Port Elizabeth-based CEN Integrated Environmental Management Unit said it had discussions with project applicant Western Cape Marina Investments on the way forward with regard to the small-boat harbour and potential impacts.

The unit's Mike Cohen said: "We have identified in our draft scoping report as well as the large number of objections. He (the client) has indicated that he will investigate ways of amending the proposal to make it more acceptable to the community.

"The unit will not proceed with the scoping report until we have clarity from the development proponent."

The draft scoping report for the harbour was submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs last month.

Residents of Plettenberg Bay were given the opportunity to learn more about the R4 billion development at public hearings on May 18. The forum has questioned many facets of the development.

"We will be forming a human 'NO' sign on Saturday to protest (against) the development," said forum spokesman Basil van Rooyen.

The forum is also working with Plettenberg Bay lawyer Elbie Burger and ratepayers with Cape Town law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenberg to protest against the project, which has been mooted for the past 15 years.

Van Rooyen said project details were vague. He said the developer was "pretending" the purpose was to establish a small-boat harbour, but this was "patent nonsense".

"Although we cannot prove it at this stage, there has been much talk among residents that the purpose of the development is to establish a casino. That is certainly not good for the people of Plett."

Burger said there had been a "deluge" of negative comment around the development.

"A lot of individuals did not attend the open day, but if you read the scoping report it is clear that there are many negatives," she said.

"While the developers say they will amend the proposal, those of us who have been around the block know that this is just pushing the 'pause' button. They will not go away if not pushed out."

Cape Times

Source: IOL Property
 

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Plett says no to R4bn harbour property development
MONDAY JUN 03, 2013

Plettenberg Bay residents showed in no uncertain terms that they are against plans for a R4-billion small-boat harbour development by forming a massive human "no" sign on the popular holiday town's Central Beach.


Plettenberg Bay locals and visitors protest on Central Beach against a R4-billion harbour development plan.

About 1 000 residents and visitors showed up on Saturday - despite cold and windy weather - to protest against the planned development at the Piesang River mouth and Central Beach, set to cover 87 000m2 and include residential buildings, offices, a 100-room fivestar hotel, mansions, retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and more than 2 000 parking bays.

The protest, organised by among others the Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers' and Residents' Association and the Community Environment Forum, follows massive opposition to Western Cape Marina Investments' plans and have forced the company to rethink its plans. "We're pleased with the turnout, especially with this being our slow season," forum chairman Rudi Nel said.

Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers' and Residents' Association small-boat harbour portfolio holder Billy Nel said thousands of residents and visitors from across the country and abroad had signed a petition against the development. The association did not have final numbers yet.

The Port Elizabeth-based CEN IEM Unit, which did the Environment Impact Assessment, said it had been instructed by the developer to investigate ways of amending the proposal to make it more acceptable to the community.

CEN's Mike Cohen said he had received 800 objections over the scope of the development, the process in appointing the developer and environmental concerns.

Cape Times

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Opposition unites against Plettenberg Bay property development
THURSDAY JUN 20, 2013

The fight to preserve and improve Plettenberg Bay's deteriorating beachfront is hotting up.

Following various attempts to stop the controversial R4 billion smallboat harbour development at Central Beach, residents and several local organisations have joined forces to form the Save Plett Alliance to fight the development and improve the beach.

Basil van Rooyen, the new body's spokesman, said members included property owners, the Plett Ratepayers and Residents Assocations and the Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum.

The establishment of the new body follows a recent mass protest on the beach by about 1000 residents and visitors who formed themselves into a massive human 'NO' sign.

"The mission of the Save Plett Alliance is to halt the present process with Western Cape Marina Investments altogether and to ensure a fresh start where the rights and interests of the larger community are taken into account," van Rooyen said.

The development involves structures along the mouth of the Piesang River and Central Beach area which are set to cover about 7000sqm and include residential buildings, offices, a 100-room, five-star hotel, mansions, retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and more than 2000 parking bays.

Locals are unhappy about hoe the developer was appointed, claiming proper procedures were not followed.

"The alliance believes the consideration should be givento our tourism-based economy, the environment, the rights of exisiting property owners and seasonal holidaymakers, as well as the extreme shortage of municipal funds," said Van Rooyen. "Full and inclusive public participation will be required to do what is best for Plett."

He said there had to be transparency in the tender processes "this time round", and community participation as intended by the Municipal Systems Act. Local contractors should be given a fair opportunity to submit tenders, and local labour would be used where-ever possible.

Referring to the harbour plan as the Western Cape Marina Investments' "preposterous proposal", Van Rooyen said the new organisation had appointed the law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS) to act on its behalf.

"The brief to ENS is to make every attempt to stop all current processes without litigation. Should such attempts be exhausted ENS will be instructed to proceed with full-blown litigation."

Van Rooyen called on interested and affected people to contribute towards the legal costs. Any monies left over at the end of the process would either be returned to donors, or used with their consent to upgrade and modernise the public open spaces around Central Beach.

Meanwhile Mike Cohen of the Port Elizabeth-based company that did the environmental impact assessment, CEN IEM UNIT, said they were 'amending their finding based on locals' opposition.

Garden Route Media
Cape Argus

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Proposed Plet harbour development divides locals
WEDNESDAY NOV 27, 2013

The final scoping report for the controversial R4 billion Plettenberg Bay small-boat harbour development has just been released, highlighting major environmental and economic concerns.


The Piesang River estuary in Plettenberg Bay.

The planned 87 000m2 development by Western Cape Marina Investments is set to include 482 residential units, 1 343m2 of office space, a 110room five- star hotel, mansions, 8 700m2 of retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and 2 000 parking bays.

The proposal has seen huge opposition from residents, who earlier this year formed a human NO-sign on Central Beach, and prompted locals to establish the Save Plett Alliance and appoint a legal team to protect their interests.

Their main objections include the scope of the development being out if kilter with the size of the town as well as the potential effects the development could have on the environment.

The final scoping report, released this week by Port Elizabeth-based CEN IEM Unit, mirrors their concerns. It highlights a number of potential negative environmental and socio-economic impacts including the loss of important estuarine habitats through dredging.

The report revealed that this could result in a reduction of diversity of estuarine biota that are dependant on these habitats.

The report also highlights the potential impact on water quality which could become contaminated by fuel, oil and concrete during the construction phase of the project.

Findings of the preliminary social investigation done by Dr Anton de Wit suggest that there are positive as well as negative social effects of the proposed development.

Positive impacts include socio-economic benefits as a result of employment creation, and empowerment benefits in the construction phase.

It is expected that during the four years of construction more than 960 jobs will be created per year with about 460 being direct jobs.

De Wit's study also highlights a number of potential negative effects including socio-cultural conflicts, a decrease in tourism and indirect impacts on businesses in the construction phase.

CEN's Dr Mike Cohen said a number of specialist studies would be done for the environmental impact report.

'The response about the proposed development has been overwhelming, both for and against,' Cohen said.

He said opposition came primarily from the more affluent residents while support came from disadvantaged communities who saw the project for its job creation potential.

Interested parties have until January 17 to comment on the final report.

Save Plett Alliance spokesman Basil van Rooyen said the report showed the developer was determined to continue with the project as initially planned, despite input from residents.

'We also want to lobby people who have homes but just stay here in December as they know nothing about the project yet,' Van Rooyen said.

Cape Argus

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Plett Harbour development proposal divives property owners
THURSDAY DEC 19, 2013

The row over the controversial R4 billion planned small boat harbour at Plettenberg Bay is hotting up after three-dimensional graphic renderings of the development started circulating through the region.


Plettenberg Bay beachfront as it currently sees out.

This comes just weeks after the final scoping report for the 87 000 sqm development by Western Cape Marina Investments was released and highlighted major environmental and economic concerns. The project will stretch from the Piesang River estuary and along the town's popular central beach.

The developers are adamant that the renderings are inaccurate.

The development is set to include 482 residential units, 1343 sqm of office space, a 110 room 5-star hotel, mansions, 8 700 sqm retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and more that 2 000 parking bays.


A rendering of the proposed development.

The renderings were commissioned by the Save Plett Alliance, formed by the Ratepayers' Association and property owners in the affected area to oppose the development, after many failed attempts to obtain accurate representations of the proposed development from the developers.

The renderings had been done by an architectural firm in Joburg based on the plans of the developer overlaid on photographs of the area, said Save Plett Alliance spokesman Basic van Rooyen.

'It is clear that this is not simply a quaint little harbour but a major urban development,' Van Rooyen said.

Developer Peter Ahern said the images were 'completely inaccurate'.

The renderings show how the face of the popular holiday destination change from a pristine main beach and estuary area to a modern developed area with massive buildings and little of the popular sandy beach remaining.

The photographs and information on the development is being circulated in the form of a brochure and is being distributed by residents and local businessses.

'Just think if they start this, roads will be closed for building, people won't come to the beach or to Plett for holidays, shops and restaurants will close on the beachfront. Can Plett sustain itself for the time it takes to build all this? Because no one wants to deal with all the construction in what is a main road and main beach for two to four years,' said resident Lesley-Anne Beale.

Plettenberg Bay Business Chamber chairman Barrie Ferreira agreed that the development could affect businesses negatively during the construction phase, but said that the project would also bring much-needed economic stimulation.

'The development would mean job creation that we desperately need and our beachfront needs an upgrade.'

Bitou Ward 2 councillor Wayne Craig said the municipality was not obliged to proceed with the project until a detailed and acceptable proposal was submitted and accepted by the council, but that the municipality was obliged to allow the agreed processes to take place.

The council would be guided by 'the best interests of the town and its residents' in making its decision.

Dr Mike Cohen from the Port Elizabeth-based CENIEM Unit, who did the scoping report, said the response to the proposed development had been overwhelming.

Opposition came primarily from the more affluent residents while support came from the disadvantaged communities who saw the project for its job creation potential.

Interested parties have until January 17 to comment on the final report after which a decision will be taken to go ahead or not with an Environmental Impact Assessment

Garden Route Media
Cape Argus

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Scathing report on Plett property development
THURSDAY FEB 27, 2014

The proposed R4 billion Plettenberg Bay small-boat harbour development has again been thrust into the spotlight after a damning report was released by the legal team representing parties opposing the project.


A digital representation of the proposed R4 billion Plettenberg Bay small-boat harbour development.

In a response to the final scoping report, a team from law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), appointed by the Save Plett Alliance and other stakeholders to protect their interests, suggested to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning that the entire proposal be rejected.

The planned 87 000m2 development by Western Cape Marina Investments - which will stretch from the Piesang River estuary and along Central Beach - would include 482 residential units, 1 343m2 of office space, a 110-room five-star hotel, mansions, 8 700m2 of retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and more than 2 000 parking bays.

The proposal has seen massive opposition from residents, who earlier this year formed a human 'NO' sign on Central Beach, and prompted locals to establish the Save Plett Alliance and appoint a legal team.

Their main objections include the scope of the development being out of kilter with the size of the town, as well as the impact the development could have on the environment.

The legal team, led by Cecil Gelbart, who was South Africa's litigation lawyer of the year last year, indicated that one of the major concerns was that the Integrated Coastal Management Act did not allow for such a development.

The legislation forbids any developments in a coastal protection zone unless it provides a public service or cannot be developed elsewhere.

The relevant properties fall within the definition of a protected coastal zone as they are less than 100m from the high-water mark and the likelihood is that they will be inundated by a 1:50 year flood or storm.

'The act was not law at the time the Piesang River estuary was put forward as the preferred site but the development would be so blatantly a contravention of the act that for the department and the Bitou Municipality to spend any more time on the issue would simply be a distraction to government institutions with other important tasks like service delivery,' the report read.

The ENS report also referred to a survey initiated by members of the Save Plett Alliance, showing that of the more than 6 000 people of all races and income groups who voluntarily participated, 99.7 percent were opposed to the development.

Save Plett Alliance spokesman Basil van Rooyen said: 'We believe the number of people who have submitted comments on the final scoping report to be about 3 000 people, including reports from engineers involved in similar developments up and down our coast that turned out disastrous. The Department of Environmental Affairs of the Western Cape certainly has their work cut out for them.'

The department has 45 days from submission to reject the proposal or to ask for more information.

Garden Route Media

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Wow, just reading this series of articles has been depressing. What is the cost of this extreme green nimbysm? What is the opportunity cost of all this to and froing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I actually agree with the residents. It'll completely alter the character of the town. Anyway:

Plett harbour property development rejected
TUESDAY APR 22, 2014

Residents against the controversial R4 billion Plettenberg Bay small boat harbour breathed a sigh of relief this week when the developer's final scoping report was rejected by the provincial Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department after a series of technical and procedural shortcomings.

The planned 87 000m development by Western Cape Marina Investments, earmarked for the Piesang River estuary and along Central Beach, includes 482 residential units, 1 343m of office space, a 110-room five-star hotel, mansions, 8 700m2 of retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and more than 2 000 parking bays.

The proposal has caused massive opposition from ratepayers and visitors, who last year formed a human 'no' sign on Central Beach and prompted locals to establish the Save Plett Alliance and appoint a legal team to protect their interests.

Their objections include the scope of the development being out of kilter with the size of the town, and its potential impact on the environment.

In its rejection notification, the department cited one reason for its decision as the developer not having demonstrated how the project fitted into the strategic frameworks and plans of the Bitou Municipality.

Further, the developer failed to consider the option - identified by the interested and affected parties and a review specialist - of building a small harbour without the massive additional apartment blocks and shops, and also did not take into account 'overwhelming' objections regarding the project's 'excessive scale'.

The department also pointed out that there were 'critical gaps in information and knowledge, as well as the entire planning process of the development proposal'.

It also found that the developer failed to incorporate some of the concerns raised by the municipality relating to infrastructure risks and associated financial costs and risks, and that the proposal excluded guarantees for maintenance of the harbour as well as an engineering feasibility assessment.

Over and above the reasons for the rejection, the department highlighted a number of 'critical issues' with the planned development, including the fact that the proposed site, the Piesang River estuary, was an important estuary - ranked 57th of the 250 on the national list of estuaries.

The proposed development is also subject to a licence that has to be obtained from the Department of Water Affairs, and is subject to the Integrated Coastal Management Act ( ICMA) and a coastal lease agreement.

The latter refers to Section 63, which specifically prohibits development on coastal public property.

An amendment of the ICMA now even requires ministerial pre-approval before any environmental application can be made.

The Economic Impact Assessment conducted by Rand International Capital concluded that the scale and the scope of the proposed development was too large for Plettenberg Bay, and the department warned that the developer would have to conduct a market demand analysis to prove the need and desirability from a commercial perspective.

The sigh of relief for those opposed to the development could, however, be short-lived, as the developer now has the opportunity to address the issues raised by the department, and resubmit a final scoping report within the next six months.

'The Save Plett Alliance is of course delighted that the department has rejected the final scoping report,' alliance spokesman Basil van Rooyen said.

'The rejection of the final scoping report sets out in good detail the reasons for the rejection, and these are quite substantial.

'There were additional issues that we would have liked the department to have raised, but even as things stand, it would be difficult for the developer to rectify the report.'

He added that the ratepayers and stakeholders should, however, not be under the impression 'that this is all over', as the developer could resubmit the report.

Developer Peter Ahern had not responded to questions regarding his future plans at the time of going to press.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Source: IOL Property
 
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