ANNA COX

THE HUDDLE Park golf course, one of the few green lungs left in Joburg, has been saved.

After about 10 years of proposed plans, including high-density developments, all of which have fallen through, either because of objections by neighbours or investors failing to come up with the money, the park fell into decline as the wetlands and walking areas were neglected.

Squatters moved in and the clubhouse was vandalised. Trucks dumped rubble on the golf course.

The municipal golf course will now be converted into a sporting and recreation facility.

An agreement has finally been reached between a private company, Dansabe, and the City of Joburg and work has started to restore and rehabilitate Huddle Park.

David Bagg will be taking care of the finances, Mike Kletz the golf, and Marian Laserson the environmental/ architecture aspects of the park, and it will be run as a community initiative.

Dansabe has a long lease with City Parks and has its full co-operation, Laserson said.

The municipal golf course, which was established in the 1930s, is actually three golf courses, but only the so-called Blue Course will be restored as a public golf course, she said.

In the place of half the Yellow and the White courses, a nine-hole mashie course and a driving range are proposed.

A walking/running track will be included and the public will be able to walk their dogs.

“Restoration has already started on the clubhouse and the pro shop. Both of these buildings have been severely vandalised.

“All the sanitary fittings and fixtures were stolen and the roof covering is badly damaged. The grounds were also totally neglected.

“The grass was last cut in March 2010. Work has started in cutting the grass and in fencing the property,” she said.

Last year, about 52 hectares of the 185ha property were sold to Investec Properties, which proposed to develop it with housing and a shopping centre, said Laserson.

“The restoration of Huddle Park as a public facility includes rehabilitation of the wetland and the biodiversity. The Wendy Bodman Walk between Huddle Park and Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golf courses will be cleaned and the lower dam will be included with this walkway as a nature conservation area, open to the public.

“It is expected that the bird life and other indigenous flora and fauna will be re-established. A running-walking track is to be established, incorporating the nature conservation area, and will be open to the public and to schools for ‘big walks’ and nature rambles,” she said.

Bagg said the park had been creating a security problem for the area for years.

“We have a 30-year lease and want to see the park come alive again with walkers, cyclists and dog walkers,” he said.

Planning for the rehabilitation of Huddle Park has taken years and included the input from the Johannesburg Property Company.

It is expected that the mashie course and the flood-lit driving range will be ready by December, but that it will take until December next year to re-establish the Blue course to public golf course standards.

Investec has bought some of the land. It said that in response to an application through the public tender process announced last year by the City of Joburg, a consortium consisting of Investec Property Ltd, the Standard Bank of SA Ltd and Global Capital, purchased 21 percent of the land at Huddle Park.

“The consortium’s primary focus in the preliminary stages will be to determine the nature and scope of the development of the 52ha, which has not yet been determined, and this will involve consulting those closely associated with Huddle Park.

“The project is in conceptual planning and we are looking forward to engaging with interested and affected parties as the planning unfolds,” said Sam Leon of Investec Properties.