GEORGE NEWS - More residents have aired concern over the municipality's support of the Sallywood City development, and the rejection of Mediclinic's application to develop a new hospital on the sawmill site nearby.
The sawmill site falls outside the urban edge and although Sallywood is in the same area, an amendment of the urban edge was granted more than a decade ago to Destiny Africa, a right that has now been taken over by the Sallywood developers.
Concerned resident Christa Barnard questions the legality of carrying over the Destiny Africa approvals to Sallywood, which she says should be regarded as a whole new project. At the launch of the project recently, developers had no definite development details available, but said that it would be similar to Destiny Africa.
Sallywood's vision that the development will eventually be home to about 100 000 people and will create 50 000 "direct" jobs is questioned by resident John Miller. "The idea that Sallywood would bring such incredible growth to George, in population and jobs, is hard to understand. First, those are big promises that would take decades to deliver. Second, growth is not always a good thing. And third - the obvious - how in the world can George deliver the services that such growth would require when it cannot even deliver everything it promises now? Then, put all that next to the enormous demand for a first class hospital to serve a wide region, and one is left with the great worry that the municipality is not doing the right thing."
Municipal manager Trevor Botha explains that Sallywood is "an old development with a new name". It was approved in 2009, years before the municipality finalised the spatial development framework (SDF), which was approved in 2013. "Its impact on the spatial structure of the city had been taken into consideration and is addressed in the SDF. It is not uncommon to include undeveloped, zoned land into the urban edge, as has been done with most of the land in the Kraaibosch area, that serves to provide for future growth demand."
The municipal communications department says the record of decision for Destiny Africa was in relation to zoning rights and included conditions which the Sallywood development would have to fulfil exactly. "For instance, if rights were given for a certain amount of housing, then it cannot deviate from it. The same with zoning for institutional use, etc. If there are any planned deviations from the Destiny Africa zoning rights, Sallywood would have to apply for such changes from scratch. There is no such thing as a blanket approval and the developers will have to submit building plans and all other required plans and documentation as per any other development site."
Fred Brown, Sallywood project coordinator, says the Sallywood proposal fits well within the parameters of the Destiny Africa model and development basket of rights. "Since the inception of the Destiny Africa model, we knew that different developers would have certain demands which will have to be 'tweaked' for a successful project."
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