According to the ANC, the land was allegedly sold to Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust below its market value for R8 million.
ANC leader in the Western Cape Cameron Dugmore said: “We’ve received disturbing reports about the land allegedly being sold at a give-away price. We will ask whoever is appointed as Minister of Public Enterprises to investigate how an urban park that is below the flood line could be sold to private developers.”
Last Friday, at a special council meeting of Heritage Western Cape, a decision to withdraw the area’s protection status was recommended. Instead it was decided to maintain the status quo.
For seven years the community of Observatory has been objecting to plans to redevelop the River Club. Residents have also raised concerns about how the proposed redevelopment on the banks of the river could have a negative impact on the environment and affect the significance of the area’s history.
The Liesbeek River, which is less than 9km long, is situated in the oldest urbanised river valley in South Africa. The Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP) is located at the confluence of the Black and Liesbeek rivers, about 5km from the city centre. Because of its environment and history, the area has become ideal for a development that could enhance job creation.
The Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust, which owns most of the land on which the current conference facilities and golf courses are located in Observatory, plans to redevelop five hectares of the site, while the remaining 10 hectares will be landscaped and rehabilitated for recreational use or for service infrastructure such as roads and parking.
Observatory Civic Association chairperson Tauriq Jenkins said: “We felt that the public participatory process in determining the recommendation was deeply flawed. We are very glad about the final decision made to protect TRUP. It’s a decision that reflects the moral courage which can symbolically reinstate Heritage Western Cape as a rightful protector of our heritage resources.”
Jenkins has also raised concerns about the sale. “We have concerns about the validity of that sale. How is it possible that Transnet can sell that piece of land, of such deep significance to our nation, in the manner and cost it did?”@MarvinCharles17