Two provincial government departments have appealed a Heritage Western Cape decision to provisionally protect the Two Rivers Urban Park (Trup), the floodplain and river banks at the convergence of the Black and Liesbeek rivers below Observatory where the River Club Golf Course is situated.
Activists have slammed the departments’ challenge, saying it was the site of a 100-year-old floodplain where three rivers converge, and apart from accommodating seasonal migrating birds, indigenous flora and fauna, it is the cremation ground of the early Quena (Otentottu) people.
The Observatory Civic Association (OCA) said its experience of “bullying tactics” by government departments in the Trup and River Club processes was that they were not interested in protecting these resources, but wanted to press ahead with development without obstacles, and the community would not tolerate such bullying.
This comes off the back of the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust proposal to redevelop most of the site for residential, commercial, institutional and associated uses.
The provincial Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department’s appeal “is not related to specific development proposals, but to a principal issue of preventing a duplication of administrative processes”, said Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, head of communication.
The Department of Transport and Public Works said the River Club site has been protected by the National Heritage Resources Act’s general protections and by the Heritage Impact Assessment process undertaken by Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust since February 2017.
In response to the appeals, OCA chairperson Tauriq Jenkins said: “Assessments to date have not given adequate attention to the heritage resources in the application.”
The matter will be heard at the Ministerial Appeal Tribunals on October 18.
It was previously reported that a R4 billion redevelopment over four years was planned for the River Club, which would include residential, retail and commercial components, including a hotel, gym, shopping centre, offices, conference centre and even schools.
These components will take up about five hectares of the site, while the remaining 10 hectares will be landscaped and rehabilitated for recreational use including a park, walking and cycling paths and an amphitheatre.
Residential units will consist of studio, one- and two-bedroom units with a maximum floor area of 77m2. A 200-room hotel was being considered that would serve business and leisure travellers.