R3bn Blouberg development

Posted On Friday, 03 August 2001 03:01 Published by
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ONE hundred percent public support has been obtained through the public participation process for the long-awaited, carefully researched R3-billion development of the 121ha land tract centred on Big Bay,

ONE hundred percent public support has been obtained through the public participation process for the long-awaited, carefully researched R3-billion development of the 121ha land tract centred on Big Bay, Bloubergstrand. No objections were received when the rezoning and the council's intent to sell the land was advertised for comment. The area to be developed runs north from the existing built-up section of Bloubergstrand to the Blouberg coastal nature reserve and reaches inland approximately 1km.
The area, with its magnificent views of Table Mountain across the bay, has the potential to become the jewel of the northern suburbs and to attract an international clientele. This development could well become recognised as the boldest and most innovative value-unlocking exercise yet carried out at the Cape under the new public / private sector partnership system.
In September 1999, the former Blaauwberg Council advertised for a development facilitator, whose brief inter-alia was to add maximum value to Bloubergstrand's Big Bay land holdings by servicing and making parcels of land available for development by investors, developers and end users.
Eleven firms responded to the tender and in July 2000, Rabcav was appointed. Rabcav is a joint venture between the Rabie Property Group, headed up by John Rabie, and the Cavcor Property Group, where the CEO is Leslie Viljoen. This team has already made a name for itself with successes in this field at Marconi Beam and Westlake, where the upgradings will result in a total of R3,8-billion-worth of new development. They are currently involved in a similar large project for the Hermanus municipality.
"The secret of success in this type of operation," said Viljoen recently, "is full, transparent public participation. The facilitator has to make absolutely certain that all interested and affected parties are consulted and given the opportunity to amend and feel part of the final plan."
Since the end of 1999, he said, he and his team had attended over 100 meetings with NGOs, ratepayers, the business community, watchdog bodies, environmental experts, government departments and individuals.
As a result of these meetings, he said, the development plan had been completely revised five times, and now has the full support of the community, all of whom will benefit in one way or another from the moves that lie ahead.
The unlocking of the council land, said Viljoen, will generate in excess of R300m in land sales and R2,5-billion in infrastructural and construction work. Big Bay, when complete, will have drawn at least 7500 new residents to the area and will provide an exciting focus for visitors throughout the year.
"The area is particularly well suited to recreational use and for interaction with nature. It has a role to play in promoting both the physical and the psychological well being of the Cape's inhabitants through active and passive recreational uses, and it was this goal that the facilitators have borne in mind throughout the planning and negotiation process."
Big Bay and its adjacent beaches, said Viljoen, are known internationally as superb venues for surfing, board sailing, rubber ducking and angling. The World Boardsailing Championships have already been held here once, and will be returning, whilst the beach has hosted several surfing internationals.
The area will serve the fast-growing residential developments of Parklands, Sunningdale, Table View and areas to the north, which will have 80 000 inhabitants within the next decade and could grow to a city the size of East London over the next 20 years.
Development of the infrastructure necessary for the land sales, says Viljoen, will take three to five years and construction work on the developments should be complete within seven to eight years. By then, Big Bay will have provided 2 400 residential opportunities, including group housing, apartments, a suburban shopping centre, a large petrol filling station, restaurants and entertainment facilities and a 400-bedroom international hotel. Provision will also be made for a retirement village, with 200 to 300 units. A total bulk of 165 000m2 of accommodation, commercial, office, retail and facilities is envisaged on the 16ha beachfront mixed use node.
Asked if this will be "another Monaco" with high rise apartments and a highly sophisticated night life, Viljoen replied, "definitely not."
The plans and the control, he said, will ensure that the entire project retains a human scale and a Cape village ambience, particularly in the mixed use areas. This will be achieved by stringent architectural guidelines, which will ensure not only that the buildings are on average three storeys high, but also that a uniform Cape vernacular style is adhered to. The mixed use and apartment areas will cluster around courtyards, which will promote security and intimacy, and will in most cases be partially landscaped and partially open for parking. Many of the roadways will be pedestrianised and traffic will be kept out of certain areas. The planners had been determined to avoid the large car parks which have created sterile areas in certain coastal developments. Instead, most of the parking will be of the simple, off-road type, and most of the buildings will have semi-basements for parking, a decision which will, once again, improve the security of the area.
Access to Big Bay will be via a re-routed Otto du Plessis Drive, as well as a 2km road-link to the West Coast road. Otto du Plessis Drive will be taken well inland, so as to open up the beachfront and mixed-use nodes. All roads within the beachfront precinct will be landscaped and kept to fairly narrow widths, so as to preserve the human scale.
Approximately 30% of the area to be developed, says Viljoen, will be set aside as conserved green belts.
"It is essential that the sensitive dune systems, fynbos and the very large milkwood forest, (one of the best in the Western Cape) are not only preserved but fully protected for long-term sustainability. We have, therefore, set aside certain areas for dune restoration and dune management and access to these areas will be controlled or totally restricted. Altogether, over R10m will be spent on landscaping by the facilitators and we expect all the individual developers to follow suit."
The environmental team is comprised of de Villiers Brownlie & Associates, assisted by Coastec, with urban planners Planning Partners. The consulting engineers are internationally-linked Arcus Gibb, in association with Hawkins Hawkins and Osborne. Work on the installation of the bulk and linking services is scheduled to start in September this year and the first parcels of land for development could be available to end users before the end of this year.
Viljoen stressed that, as in the previous Rabcav projects, the council has determined that the revenue generated through land sales will be used for funding critically needed capital projects in the areas, for which the City of Cape Town currently lacks the financial resources - and that the disadvantaged sectors will be among the main beneficiaries.
"This is, we believe, the way in which the new South Africa should be moving forward - with wholly transparent, public / private sector partnerships, unlocking the value of state land for the whole community."

Publisher: Cape Business News
Source: Cape Business News

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