Cape Town - Preliminary plans to build a luxury hotel near the historic Fort Wynyard in Green Point and to convert the Tamboerskloof Ammunition Magazine into a conference facility have been “terminated” with immediate effect by the SANDF.
The CSIR, appointed in January by the SANDF to call for proposals for the development of the two prime sites, confirmed that it received the notification from the chief of logistics on Tuesday.
“It is not going ahead. We got notice from the client to terminate the development of the concept. We don’t know what they are going to do now,” said project manager Hans van Wemelen.
He said no reasons had been given for the sudden halting of the project.
The department had not responded to questions from the Cape Argus about the project’s termination at the time of going to press.
At a briefing on Thursday, organised by CSIR, the media were told that the June 12 call for architectural designs was the first stage of a long process that would eventually have included environmental and heritage impact assessments and public participation.
Van Wemelen said the CSIR had been appointed five years ago to update the SANDF’s immovable assets register.
Included in this was an assessment of all the endowment land that was donated to the SANDF in the 1920s. As the custodian of these land portions, some of which were valuable, the SANDF could decide whether it wanted to sell them, develop on them or expand any of the facilities.
“What came out of the investigation was that not all the land is being utilised.”
The CSIR recommended that the SANDF should look at ways of getting better value out of its land and visited several sites in the Western Cape, including erven in Sea Point, Simon’s Town and Hout Bay, Van Wemelen said.
“We took the most promising three sites and came up with proposals of what could be done on the sites.”
Van Wemelen said Fort Wynyard’s mountain and sea views made it the ideal location for a hotel. The Tamboerskloof site, now being used as a “foster farm” and for the police horse stables, would be popular with tourists visiting the city.
Possible options included a guest house for MPs, a couple of houses for directors-general and MPs in town on parliamentary business, and an old age home for military veterans.
The old ammunition store currently contained artwork that was “a fire hazard”, and would be better used as a conference facility.
Van Wemelen said the Department of Defence approved the CSIR’s recommendations for the three sites, and gave the green light for architects to submit concept drawings by June 19.
He said that nine architects in Cape Town had submitted proposals. They would be notified that the project had been canned.
He could not confirm how much the SANDF would pay for the work done in this “early stage” of the development process.
However, the cost was understood to be millions of rand. It cost about R200 million for the CSIR to do the extensive national assessment of the SANDF’s immovable assets over five years.
Van Wemelen said it was in the SANDF’s best interests to develop land that was not being used, as maintenance was costly and time-consuming. It could take as long as 10 years for the SANDF to do maintenance work on all its assets, and there were “huge backlogs”.
Of the future of the military land at Fort Wynyard and Tamboerskloof, Van Wemelen said: “It would not be good administration to do nothing with it.”
He said that no other projects of this nature had been terminated at this early stage of the process.