The latest phase in the Point Waterfront development plan has kicked in with the release for comment of new plans drawn up after agreement was finally reached on development at Vetch’s Beach.
Neels Brink, the project director for the Durban Point Development Company (DPDC), has applied to the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs for an amendment to the environmental authorisation.
The revised layout has been drawn up in the wake of the settlement agreement.
Interested and affected parties have until July 16 to have their say on the application.
The department has pointed out that it might decide a further public participation process may be needed before reaching a decision.
A motivation attached to the application says the revised plan will not result in any negative impacts to the environment as it down-scaled development.
Johnny Vassilaros, chairman of Durban Paddle Ski Club, said he was still examining the amendment details, released this week, and hoped they were consistent with the agreement that had been negotiated.
The DPDC spokesman said everything in the amendment conformed to the agreement.
DPDC initially got the environmental go-ahead in 2009, but the initial project – which envisaged a small craft harbour behind a sea wall running alongside Vetch’s Pier with a 24-storey iconic hotel – stalled following challenges from The Save Vetch’s Association (SVA) and the Durban Paddle Ski Club.
The original plan left only 100m of Vetch’s Beach with limited access for the Point Watersports Club (then the Durban Ski Boat Club, Durban Undersea Club and the Point Yacht Club), Durban Paddle Ski Club and the general public.
But the 10-year impasse ended with a compromise agreement, which scales down the small craft harbour to a compact waterfront basin.
The revised plan retains 50 percent of the area as a beach for public use and 50 percent to be reconfigured into the waterfront basin.
No development will take place along Vetch’s Reef as originally planned and no structures will be built in the beach zone or Vetch’s Basin.
The proposed iconic five-or-six-star hotel has now been repositioned to the mouth of the harbour. It will have “fantastic” views out to sea as well as of the Bluff and the Durban coastline and serve as a gateway into the harbour and the waterfront basin zone. It is seen as a long-term project as the land it will eventually stand on is still under water.
The Point Watersports Club had originally agreed to move into a new joint clubhouse at the base of the new North Pier, but this will now be repositioned at the base of Vetch’s Pier and members will be able to launch their boats directly from the beach.
Durban Paddle Ski Club members will be able to join the four-level club, which will have a vertical boat storage facility for 250 paddle skis.
The amended plan also envisages a wider promenade and two new iconic buildings.
Additional space is proposed at the canal lock to enable the public to view the canal/lock operations.
Based on the development proposals, Browns Road is expected to operate close to capacity and it is suggested the intersections be widened to include left and right turn slots. On-street parking will be removed.
The agreement between the developer and the SVA specifically states no members of the SVA will object to any application the developers may make for an amendment to the environmental approval – or to any amendments the developer makes to the town planning scheme, if these are in terms of the agreement.
There are two processes that need to be completed before the development can proceed: a decision on the environmental amendment application, and a decision on a rezoning application relating to the revised layout of the project, which is before the city’s town planning department.
“Hopefully, we will get approval for these this year,” the DPDC spokesman said.
A motivation report to the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs concludes the vision of the development had not been compromised with the new plan and getting the environmental go-ahead will “start a much needed revival of the Point Development project and promote the regeneration of this key precinct for Durban”.
Details about the amended environmental application, including layouts, and the relevant appendices can be downloaded from: www.pravinamar.com or from www.pravinamar.com/reports/default.asp and then select the “small crafts harbour” option on the web page.