Water concerns sink golf estate

Johannesburg –Last week’s controversial decision to stop the LagoonBay Lifestyle Estate project near George in the southern Cape may have far-reaching consequences for further golf estate developments throughout the country.

The decision by Anton Bredell,Western Cape MEC for Local Government,Environmental Affairs and Development Planning,comes after the developer spent R250m on the project over the past eight years,having obtained all the requisite approvals right up to the final hurdle.

Bredell had to give final approval for the subdivision and zoning of the 651ha piece of land. But he turned it down based on a combination of factors.

LagoonBay,an investment worth R5bn,would have created up to an estimated 17 000 jobs over ten years in the construction phase and 1 650 permanent jobs thereafter.

The development between the Maalgate River and Glentana would have included a five-star hotel with conference facilities,two 18-hole golf courses and 1 800 houses. The plans also included new houses on 25ha for 37 poor families living on the Hoogekraal farms and without access to electricity or water.

Bredell told Sake24 that he was totally convinced that he had made the proper decision and that he was comfortable with it.

Although he was sensitive to the issue of job-creation,he said that was not the only factor and an important consideration was always the availability of water.

He said a golf course’s average daily water consumption ranges from 1.2m to 3m litres. This amounts to 36m to 90m litres a month,which is enough to supply 6 000 to 15 000 households with free water a month. South Africa has almost 500 golf courses. Greater George already has 12 top-class courses.

Furthermore,the development is 14km outside the heart of George,and Bredell questioned whether the municipality would be able to deliver affordable services sustainably over that distance. An additional factor is the 37 smallholdings involved,which is land that could be used to produce food,he said.

LagoonBay chief executive Dr Werner Roux said developers were being misled. They had had to go through every process,chronologically and successively,to get to the rezoning,only to be disappointed at the final hurdle.

He said the land on which the development was planned had lain fallow for the past 20 years without any economic contribution being made towards the inhabitants. And the provincial and national departments of agriculture had approved the project.

In July 2010 the George municipality had approved the subdivision and zoning of the land.

As far as the water situation was concerned,LagoonBay had reached an agreement with the municipality to pipe waste water to the premises,where it would treat it for consumption. It had also agreed to provide the municipality with 5m litres of potable water every day. Roux said the project had had the full support of the Department of Water Affairs.

He said LagoonBay would not leave the matter there,and would request the formal reasons for the minister’s decision,after which the decision would be contested in court.

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