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Stand-off over Beachwood development

3D View of the proposed development from the North (Virginia Airport). Picture: Supplied

3D View of the proposed development from the North (Virginia Airport). Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 6, 2023


The developer of the Beachwood Coastal Development in Durban is adamant that it will go ahead despite strong objections from some residents who have lodged objections against the project.

Developer Gavin Strydom said they are waiting on the final decision from the eThekwini Municipality on the objections filed by residents before they break ground.

The planned development had complied with all statutory requirements, he added.

The Beachwood development will lead to amenities like residential and hotel property developed on the site.

A residents association in Durban North said over the past six months they had collected more than 3 000 signatures as part of the petition objecting to the development.

The residents had raised numerous concerns about the project, including that the area earmarked for the development is an environmentally-sensitive area, not suitable for other amenities apart from the golf course that is currently there.

The development also meant they would lose use of the property as public access would fall away, they said.

They were also concerned about the ability of the water and electricity infrastructure to cope with the new development.

Strydom said the decision on when the development can proceed was imminent.

“The delay in breaking ground was due to a small neighbourhood group that had lodged an objection, which was heard about a week ago. The decision on the objection should be announced by the municipality within 30 days.

“There’s no doubt the development is going ahead. We have gone through all the statutory approvals,” he said in a telephone interview.

“The statutory applications (Environmental Impact Assessment, Water Use Licence Application and Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act) associated with the re-purposing of Beachwood Golf Club (Phase 1) is complete.”

As part of this process, the public had been notified of the outcomes of these statutory applications and the public were entitled to voice their objections, he said.

“Input from the public is critical to developers. If they happen to identify any possible oversights from our side, we would welcome their comments to address any meaningful and pertinent comments at the early stages of our development.

“A sustainable, environmentally conscious development initiative is being advanced by ourselves that will result in the environment and neighbourhood being better off, post development.”

Strydom said the “Friends of Beachwood” (FOB) group lodged one objection at the municipality.

“Only 24 individuals form part of FOB. The grounds they are objecting on are frivolous. For example, FOB argues the golf course is a public amenity.

“The appellant and its members have misunderstood the status of the property, and more particularly the golf course.

This land parcel is privately owned and hence it is private property. The property is also zoned ‘Private Open Space’ and has no public purpose.

The appellant erroneously treats the property as a ‘commonage’ of sorts to which the whole neighbourhood has free access. That is wrong both factually and legally.

“Of course, users of the road servitude may use that servitude to access that beach.

Those who surreptitiously use the golf course for walking, exercising their dogs and so forth have no right to do so. Consequently, it is unclear where the appellant finds support for its notion of the property being a public space which they allege must be retained as such,” he said.

As for the concerns raised about the infrastructure constraints, he said the municipality would have never approved the development if its infrastructure was unable to cope with it.

Durban North Residents’ Association chairperson Vanessa Knight said 3 000 residents have signed a petition objecting to the development.

She said the petition will form part of the legal action if they challenge the decision. Their objections were based on environmental concerns and they feared the infrastructure would struggle to cope, she said.

“There is a reason that piece of land has not been developed in 100 years. Nothing will change the fact that the land is a floodplain; no development could take place there.

“Close to 3 000 residents have signed a petition objecting to the development and about 1 000 written submissions have been made objecting to the development. The residents are still signing the petition and the numbers are growing,” she said.

Approached for comment on the objections, municipal spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said the appeal hearing took place on Tuesday last week.

“In terms of the process, the Appeals Authority will release the minutes; the decision notice will be signed off and issued to the appellants. Prior to this, we are not able to respond to the questions raised as we do not have the information at our disposal to provide factual responses at this stage.

We cannot pronounce on when the minutes will be ready; we will await details from the secretariat before we can respond factually on the matter.”

The Mercury