GEORGE NEWS - The development of a new Mediclinic George on the sawmill property next to Outeniqua Family Market will not be allowed. This final verdict by the George Municipality's appeal authority was announced last week to the developer, Magnolia Ridge Properties, three years after its initial application was launched.
In the meantime, in an effort to meet the growing demand for beds, Mediclinic has started construction of a new intensive care unit on the fifth floor of the hospital.
Manager Kassie Karstens said they were granted a license for an additional nine beds. The new ICU will cost R11,3-million. He said their daily bed shortage is forcing them to such expenditure, even if it is short-term.
"Currently, Mediclinic cannot accommodate or recruit new specialists because of the limited facilities."
Magnolia's appeal to the municipality's initial rejection of the application failed in 2017. The developer took the matter on review and the appeal decision was set aside in the Western Cape High Court.
The court referred the matter back to the municipality's appeal authority with the instruction that independent technical advisers in planning and law be appointed to prepare reports on the matter.
An oral hearing where objectors and the applicant could make submissions to the appeal authority was held on 1 April this year, after which the final decision was made.
The municipality's basis for turning down the application is that the development falls outside the urban edge and is not in line with the municipal spatial development framework (SDF) that is aimed at densifying the city and optimising existing infrastructure, services and public transport.
Karstens said he was disappointed. "We have to start over and consider all possible options. Mediclinic is still willing to invest in George, but it seems as if George does not want the investment.
"The sawmill land is perfect with already suitable existing access and additional access that would have been created in the future. Because of the current expansion of George, we knew it would in 20 years' time still be a good location.
"Mediclinic's investment of over R700-million should at least be done on premises where you are sure it is not going to lose its value overnight."
He did not say which other options are being considered.