GEORGE NEWS - The scale and extent of the application by Magnolia Ridge Properties on the sawmill site pose "definite risks" for the vitality of the existing nodes within the city, says Municipal Manager Trevor Botha.
He responded to questions around the municipality's rejection of a new Mediclinic here.
"The municipality did not refuse the Mediclinic, but the decision was taken on a development proposal of which the Mediclinic is only a component. The applicant was well aware of the risks involved in pursuing outcomes that are not fully endorsed in terms of national, provincial and local policy. The developer had made it clear very early on in the application that their intent was to develop the total area of over 30 hectares of land and that this application (for Mediclinic) was the first phase.
The potential rights envisaged for this development were aimed to introduce at least 14 hectares of gross leasable floor area comprising of a mix of land uses, including retail, of which the medical precinct would comprise approximately four hectares. The medical facility in itself does not only cater for a hospital but includes potential for several other medical related practices to relocate to this space where said relocation would not contribute to the growth, sustainability or resilience of any of the existing nodes within the city."
Botha says the developer motivated their application as the start of an initiative to establish a new regional primary node for the city. "This is grossly misaligned with the long-term spatial vision for the city. Committed efforts were made to guide the Mediclinic group to suitably zoned and serviced sites where their development could have been facilitated over a very short period of time."
He says rapid growth and relatively "indiscriminate approvals" of large-scale developments since the early 2000s are among the reasons why the municipality had to ensure it has a credible SDF. "The framework is intended to look at the overall picture, with the future in mind, and to address the issues that will ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the entire municipal area."
'Long-term aspects ignored'
Arno de Vos of Magnolia Ridge Properties says the effect of the municipality's rejection of their application is "far greater for the Mediclinic as a substantial investor and the residents of the region...". The municipality failed to adhere to the pleads of Mediclinic who have already investigated where the best possible location for their hospital is, "while the municipality is only interested to make decisions based on their short-term goals for George. Surely the long-term vision for George, the region and investors' preference over the last four years should have provided enough reason to approve such a request without being derailed by prescriptive municipal officials? The long-term qualitative aspects of the location were blindly and deliberately ignored ... we will disclose in due course a multitude of misrepresentation and double standards by the municipality."
Mediclinic George manager Kassie Karstens says, "Mediclinic has decided to rather comment at a later stage as this is a difficult situation. We are glad to read that the municipality supports the project and we are looking forward to come up with a workable solution that will be of great value to the community and environment."
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