Eventually, a win-win deal
Credit must be given those who facilitated the breaking of the stalemate over a small craft harbour at Vetch’s beach, which had divided water sports bodies and angered developers and beach users.
The compromise reached, allowing a smaller development to go ahead while still protecting Vetch’s Pier and access to the beaches, took many months of hard work behind the scenes.
For 10 years the fight typified the kind so often played out between conservationists and wealthy developers. Driven by belief, the people who gave so much time to the Save Vetch’s Association proved that David could, at the very least, tie up Goliath until the giant became almost moribund.
The refusal by the Durban Paddle Ski Club, under chairman Johnny Vassilaros, to accept the original plan from the developers, formed a kernel around which opponents rallied. This led to the formation of the SVA.
The other water sport clubs had signed an agreement with the developers, opting to “fight from within”. The paddle ski club and its resolute defiance became an obvious target and was subject to harassment.
These tactics backfired when actions, such as getting the sheriff to seize members’ boats, drew irate water sport people into the fight.
The pact thus meant a triumph over animosity. Each side will bear their own legal costs. And the deal sets out how most of the beach, the pier and the reef are to be protected.
The developers have agreed not to hinder access by the general public to the beach zone, either during construction or beyond it. The agreement also allows the paddle ski club to join the other clubs in one body, still to be negotiated.
For the developers it offers a chance to inject much-needed growth into the Point area. Any bitterness after such a long fight, one which should have been settled 10 years ago, should now be set aside.
Durban has every interest in regenerating confidence and momentum in the Point Development.