GEORGE NEWS - The urban edge of George will not be expanded. A discourse on the matter took place at a special council meeting last Wednesday, 29 May, during the tabling of the Spatial Development Framework (SDF), which would be valid for the next five-year cycle.
Acting director of Planning and Development, Clinton Petersen, said the rationale for Council's decision to not expand the urban edge is explained in the George SDF document.
"Essentially, to maintain and enhance Council's fiscal health, revitalise the city's economy, and restructure the city to the benefit of all its citizens, it is imperative that in the short to medium term, focus is placed on utilising existing land as well as community, infrastructure and services resources more efficiently and sustainably. In other words, to do more with what we already have."
In Council, the PBI submitted a counterproposal, asking for the expansion of the urban edge to make provision for more housing opportunities and business development. It was seconded by Icosa councillor Wilbur Harris and supported by the ANC and Good.
Councillor Virgill Gericke of the PBI said planning for the future is of utmost importance, especially if you keep the vision for George in mind to become a metro. Gericke said some of the land Council wants to use for future developments is currently in possession of private owners.
"We are already dealing with a very dense city and neighbourhoods, resulting in an increase in crime and social evils and overcrowding." He said expanding the urban edge will lead to a range of economic and employment opportunities. Gericke said Council lost the opportunity of a lifetime when they recently declined an investment opportunity from Mediclinic.
Expansion not justified
Petersen said in the city, the present take-up of new housing in the formal market is about 400 to 500 erven per year, while government can potentially deliver a similar number of subsidised and gap housing units per annum.
"Given that there are about 10 000 existing formal market opportunities (on both private and public land), excluding opportunities for densification, about 11 000 opportunities for the development of subsidised housing (on state-owned land), and some 40ha available for business and industrial development within the existing urban edge, it was found that there is more than enough land within the existing urban edge boundaries to accommodate the city's growth for at least the next 15 to 20 years. Any expansion of the urban edge into the surrounding hinterland could therefore not be justified."
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