The Blackriver with the River Club in the background. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
The Blackriver with the River Club in the background. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

LETTER: Facts about River Club site distorted

By Jody Aufrichtig Time of article published Mar 2, 2020

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This letter refers to “Petition against River Club redevelopment has over 6 000 signatures”:

The article reveals again the great lengths a fringe interest group will go to further their own isolationist agenda - even if it means blocking jobs and other socio-economic benefits for the people of Cape Town.

The truth is that the petition by the Observatory Civic Association (OCA) is riddled with lies and misinformation. Here are the facts:

The River Club site is in fact severely under-utilised, closed to the public and degraded, with some parts being used as a rubbish dump - hardly a “precious part of our city”, as disingenuously claimed by the OCA.

In fact, the redevelopment plans see the site being transformed into a mixed-use development, with 65% of the site dedicated to open green spaces accessible to everyone to walk, play and relax.

It will see the major environmental rehabilitation and upgrading of the area and showcase the Liesbeeck River, which has cultural and heritage significance.

Extensive and independent biodiversity assessments were conducted by a team of experts who found that the rivers surrounding the site were severely degraded. They concluded that the proposed development would drastically improve the environment.

A comprehensive surface-water hydrology assessment was also conducted, which concluded that the proposed redevelopment would have no significant impact on flooding in the adjacent urban area.

It’s a complete fabrication that I instructed the project hydrologist not to meet with the community. We have had numerous public participation meetings that have included the independent hydrologists.

I have also made various attempts to meet with residents to allay this known concern with the facts, but was in one instance actually blocked.

We have also conducted extensive and constructive engagements with the majority of Khoi and San leaders in the Peninsula (the First Nations Collective), who have expressed their full support for the development.

The redevelopment will create more than 6000 vital jobs. It will contribute to the upgrade of surrounding roads and public transport infrastructure and will critically provide developer-subsidised inclusionary housing.

All this information is contained the draft Basic Assessment Report (BAR), advertised for public comment. All comments received will be included in the final BAR submitted to the department of environmental affairs and planning for a decision.

The OCA’s claims that they have started the online petition due to the BAR process being “cumbersome” is rubbish. It is nothing more than another attempt to distort the truth.

We remain committed to working with everyone who wants to create a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous city and province.

* Jody Aufrichtig, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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