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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Feedback on progress – Schulphoek development

Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dr Annelie Rabie, held a public meeting on Wednesday afternoon, 31 January 2024 at 18:00, to update the public on the Schulphoek Housing Development in Hermanus.

The meeting was requested by Ward 7’s Ward Councillor, Hybré Lombard, as Sandbaai residents have an interest in, and are affected by, this development, even though the development is a Ward 6 project.

As can be expected, the Municipal Auditorium was packed, with the majority of the attendees being Sandbaai residents.

The Mayor started the meeting with a factual presentation of the project and also what has transpired since she became the Mayor.  She also discussed the scope of works for the tender that was published, leading to the appointment of ASLA, the Implementing Agent.

From the scope of works that was flagged on the big screen, it is clear that there was indeed no deviation from the originally planned mixed use development.  It should be noted that this project, at its inception, was punted as a provincial catalytic project, meaning that the Provincial Department of Human Settlements (DoHS) would manage the project, with assistance from other relevant Provincial Departments, for example, the Department of Environmental Management and Development Planning, and that all resources for the project would be pooled from the budgets of these departments.

Unfortunately, and for reasons unknown, this did not materialise, hence when the current administration (2021-2024) took office, a Land Availability Agreement (LAA) was signed, whereby the land was ceded to the DoHS.  A project team, consisting of planning, civil engineering and building professionals, was then appointed by the DoHS to commence with the planning processes.  After many months it was clear that this plan was also not working and Council then, in consultation with the DoHS, cancelled the LAA and appointed an Implementing Agent in September 2023.

Although mention was made previously of grants for the project, which were indicated in the budgets of the Municipality, the only budget OM is responsible for is the current financial year’s budget.  In previous years, as the OM was not the developer, the budgets indicated, were under the control of the DoHS.

Mayor Rabie reiterated that during all this time there were no plans submitted to Council for approval and “that it is still the case”.  Development proposals and guidelines may have been discussed by the then Social Compact, but none of them were formally tabled to, or approved by, Council. The Implementing Agent will consider these proposals as part of the current planning process. She further emphasised the fact that the project was approved by the DoHS on 24 February 2021 as an upgrading of an informal settlement, way before she became the mayor in November 2021, thus dispelling the narrative of the Sandbaai Action Group that she changes the scope of the project.

Mr Pierre Blaauw, the Director of ASLA, who is responsible for this project, then gave a synopsis of the implementation processes for the project, as well as the reasoning behind the in-situ upgrading of the informal settlement where it is currently located.

It was also stressed that the project will be done in a phased approach, starting with the installation of basic services and ultimately various typologies and forms of tenure will be implemented.

He further indicated the timelines for planning and environmental approvals, both of which will be subjected to thorough public participation as depicted by legislation.  The first process, however, is to start with a survey of all the residents in the settlement to determine their socio-economic status, as well as the general needs that will inform the urban planning process.  A reasonable request was made for implementation timelines and ASLA committed to providing these timelines, as it is in any case an integral part of the management of the project.

The Municipal Manager then opened the floor for questions. Not all questions were answered, which is understandable, as the purpose of the meeting was to share information and some of the questions referred to people who are no longer in the employ of the Municipality. It is understood that voice notes of the ‘questions and answers’ were widely distributed by the Sandbaai Forum after the meeting.

Mayor Rabie and the members of her Mayoral Committee expressed their satisfaction that the meeting, although raucous at times, was successful in the sense that the factual information on the Schulphoek development was disseminated and not the fake news that is spread as truth by both the Schulphoek Action Group and the Sandbaai Forum.

She once again stated that people should ask and not guess “and at least try to get the factual information before making assumptions, or accepting what is given to them as the truth”.

Should the need arise more information sessions will be held in future to update the public on the progress of the project.

In parting it was stated that everyone shared a common objective which is to achieve something special, and we require everyone’s co-operation to achieve this.



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