In these two pieces below Jody Aufrichtig and Leslie London, share their opinions, and information on the Two Rivers site in Observatory. Picture: Supplied
In these two pieces below Jody Aufrichtig and Leslie London, share their opinions, and information on the Two Rivers site in Observatory. Picture: Supplied

River Club project is about maximising profit at the people's expense

By Jody Aufrichtig, Leslie London Time of article published Dec 27, 2019

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There has been much debate over the plan for the Two Rivers site in Observatory.

In these two pieces below Jody Aufrichtig from the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust and   Leslie London, Observatory Civic Association (OCA) chairperson both share their opinions, and information over the development that is expected to take place on the site:

It is pointless to block a development that will bolster the economy

The front-page story “ Another hurdle for R4bn Two Rivers Park development plan” (Cape Argus, December 18) wrongly conflates the largely government-owned 240 hectare Two River Urban (TRUP) land, with the privately-owned 14.7 hectare River Club site in Observatory.

It is the larger Two Rivers site that a handful of residents are claiming they are “applying” to Heritage Western Cape (HWC), to declare a provincial heritage site.

It is not clear what the agenda of this small group is. We can only infer that they are using the guise of heritage concerns as an attempt to block efforts by the private developer to create social and economic opportunities for the people of Cape Town, and address the injustices of apartheid spatial planning.

The fact is that a comprehensive Heritage Application process, in terms of section 38 of the National Heritage Resources Act, is currently under way in respect of the River Club. All parties had opportunities to participate and submit their comments – which have been considered and responded to in a comprehensive heritage impact assessment, to be considered by HWC in January 2020.

We are confident that this process will deal with all heritage related issues on the River Club site and will form part of the environmental, heritage and socio-economic application, submitted to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, for their consideration and decision.

The R4 billion project is also expected to deliver more than 6 000 jobs, at a time when our economy needs it most.

This development is for the people of Cape Town, and we remain committed to working with parties who want 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.

River Club project is about maximising profit at the people's expense

In his response to our objections to the River Club development in Observatory, the developer Jody Aufrichtig says: “It is not clear what the agenda of this small group is (other than to) block efforts by the developer to create social and economic opportunities (to) address the injustices of apartheid spatial planning.”

Aufrichtig’s development has nothing to do with addressing historical injustices.

Rather, he is attempting to divide First Nations leaders and negate any claims by them to speak for the land.

Large corporations wanting to extract economic rewards classically sow division within communities opposed to their activities. This is well documented in the Xolobeni case in the Eastern Cape.

His development is not, as he has claimed to “make a nice safe environment not only for Observatory, but for Rondebosch, Langa and Khayelitsha” (Cape Argus, August 14). It is about maximising profits at the expense of people.

This R4 billion development is proposed for a 15-hectare piece of land recently bought by the developer from Transnet for R12 million and almost immediately revalued for more than R100m by Investec.

If permitted to proceed as planned, the development will exponentially enrich the developer.

This pattern is in keeping with his previous developments, none of which appear to demonstrate any genuine commitment to spatial redress: The Old Mac Daddy in Elgin, The Biscuit Mill, the Woodstock Exchange and several others. These are equally high-end developments, far beyond the reach of most people living in Woodstock and Salt River, where gentrification is destroying the community fabric.

This is a designer development with a modicum of affordable housing simply to counter public outcry at previous proposals. In total, affordable housing comprises 4% of the whole development.

Our agenda is very clear. Heritage Western Cape (HWC) needs to carry through the grading of the entire Two Rivers Urban Park site without being hampered by the endless appeals lodged by the developer’s highly paid lawyers.

Our group is not small. More than 400 public submissions opposing the development were made.

More than 30 civic associations and NGOs from across the peninsula and beyond have joined five First Nations Groups in calling for HWC to exercise its mandate to grade the site in terms of Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act.

The historical, cultural and environmental value of the Two Rivers Urban Park are of such national significance that we cannot demand anything less.

* Leslie London, Observatory Civic Association (OCA) chairperson.

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

Cape Argus

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