GEORGE NEWS - Late last year the George Municipality appointed private town planners to start the process of rezoning land at the Garden Route Dam for educational purposes. Plans are afoot to develop a university at the dam.
Resident Ingrid van Wyk of the Glenwood Conservancy questions the wisdom of developing tertiary facilities around the dam. "This is an unbelievably beautiful, natural area where everyone - cyclists, runners, canoeists and horse riders - love to do their sport. It attracts a lot of people who walk their dogs and tourists. The natural beauty of George is what visitors come here for, but now the municipality wants to destroy this.
"With a university comes high density residential facilities, which is completely inappropriate for an area located right next to our town's water source. We are not even allowed to swim there."
Van Wyk suggests that the open land at the York Street entrance on the west side of town be used for this purpose. The South Cape College has already announced its intention to develop a big campus there. "It is closer to town and will be more convenient for students."
The George Municipality said it could not disclose which tertiary institutions have made enquiries with regard to the possible establishment of campuses in George, as it does not want to jeopardise future processes in this regard. The area being considered for rezoning is approximately 120 hectares in extent.
According to Delia Power, acting director of planning and development, the area around the dam will have a number of zoned components including business, place of instruction, residential as well as recreational areas and a conservation area.
"The planning department is not at liberty to provide concept details at this stage as the layout is still in its design stages.
"A constraints analysis has been done which informs the development concept for the site, which still needs to be accepted by Council before it can be released for public participation," said Power.
Former campus principal of Nelson Mandela University George campus, Prof Quinton Johnson, is said to be part of efforts to establish an independent university here. He declined to comment.
NMU expands at Saasveld
Upon enquiry, Alet van Tonder, campus communications head of Nelson Mandela University George campus, said they are expanding their facilities this year, but this will take place on the campus at Saasveld. "I am not aware of any specific expansion plans of the Mandela University that require rezoning in the dam area. We will be starting with new, exciting expansion on the George Campus, which includes construction of new housing to provide about 200 extra beds.
"The Furntech building will also be handed over after the first years' welcoming to the contractors for upgrading for bigger classrooms and a multipurpose hall.
"The work will last for a big part of the year."
She said the campus is growing continuously and sustainably with regard to student numbers, graduates, postgraduate focus, and infrastructure.
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