The R4 billion development at the River Club is expected to begin next month. Picture: Supplied
The R4 billion development at the River Club is expected to begin next month. Picture: Supplied

Construction to begin next month on controversial River Club redevelopment

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published May 5, 2021

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Cape Town – Construction is expected to begin next month on the controversial River Club redevelopment.

In a notice dated May 3, the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) said it had been granted environmental authorisation for the development.

“LLPT hereby gives notice of the intention to commence the redevelopment (construction) of the River Club development in or about mid-June 2021, or as soon as possible thereafter.

“As indicated in the Basic Assessment, construction impacts may cause a temporary or intermittent nuisance to neighbouring residents, eg, through the generation of noise and dust, visual clutter and traffic associated with construction vehicles,” the notice reads.

“Mitigation measures listed in the approved Environmental Management Programme Report (EMPr) will be implemented to manage impacts as far as possible during the construction phase, though. As with any construction project, some residual impacts are likely.”

Compliance with the EMPr will be monitored by an independent environmental control officer and a dedicated community liaison officer will be appointed when the main building contractor is appointed for the redevelopment, the LLPT said.

It was envisaged that the development could take five years to complete, “based on tenant demand”, the LLPT said.

Last week, activists and residents hosted a walk of resistance against the R4 billion development.

The walk followed the City’s approval of the development and the provincial Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) decision.

The redevelopment, on 15 hectares of land, is set to include shops, restaurants, offices and a hotel, while US retail giant Amazon will be the anchor tenant.

The LLPT said the redevelopment will include 5239 jobs during the construction phase and 860 jobs during the operational phase.

They did not answer questions about the current number of employees affected by the development, or whether they would be absorbed into new positions.

“The LLPT cannot provide information on confidential labour consultation processes that are currently under way between tenants at the River Club and their employees.”

Ndifuna Ukwazi attorney Jonty Cogger said the development process has been riddled with procedural, heritage, and environmental issues, including that the site has historic and political heritage value as one of the first sites of violent colonial dispossession as well as powerful resistance by Khoi and San people.

“It is our view that while the various First Nations groups have been dealt with in a divisive and undermining way there can be no spatial justice in this development. What is needed for this sacred site is healing and restoration.

“The developers are therefore taking a significant risk that approval won't be set aside by the high court on any of the number of issues raised,” Cogger said.

High commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoena council Tauriq Jenkins said the notice had angered thousands of people.

“This is the response to our Walk of Resistance on Freedom Day, a call for truth and reconciliation of the Khoi and San, and a shared world heritage. Our heritage of resistance and freedom is under severe and imminent threat. The plan to bulldoze is clear.”

Cape Times

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