GEORGE NEWS - George-based architect Pieter Brown has aired grave concern over a new development on the eastern side of the city where bulk sewerage services can not be provided by George Municipality at the moment.
The developer of Koraalboom Familie Landgoed has been informed that their application can currently not be considered, says Brown.
This is because the eastern sewerage line - servicing the areas of Kraaibosch, Welgelegen, Blue Mountain and Groenkloof, among others - is functioning virtually at full capacity.
Brown says that during a pre-application meeting last year between the developer and planning department, they were given unofficial assurance that they could go ahead to prepare their application.
"Now that we are launching the process we are being informed that services are not available. Our aim is to start with the first phase (consisting of 30 houses) in January next year. Development can not be halted. We are coming out of Covid and people have to save businesses and work to eat. A long chain of people are affected. Proposals and solutions for the interim are available in order to allow development to continue, but developers and the municipality will have to take hands. We are willing to provide our own sewerage service and even electricity generation, but interim service agreements will be needed. There must be transparency and the municipality must not be seen to hinder development. We are struggling to get responses from officials on our queries."
George Mayor Leon van Wyk acknowledges that there is ongoing pressure on the Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) as a result of the city's rapid growth. However, Council has passed no official moratorium on new development, he says.
"There is, however, an urgent need to balance the capacity available with new development applications for connection to the municipal sewerage system. Internal engagements are ongoing to consider interim solutions. Engagements are also being held on an ongoing basis with developers to ensure that progress being made is communicated and that planning is aligned between the municipality and developers."
He says the municipality is working on an interim solution to provide additional waste water treatment capacity with the intention to have an interim measure in place by the end of the 2020/21 financial year, with additional capacity within 18 to 20 months.
"The civil work for the 10 Ml extension of the Outeniqua WWTW in Pacaltsdorp was completed in 2019, but there have been unforeseen delays with the mechanical-electrical component of the project. The resolution of these delays is taking time, and once the contract starts, it will take about two years to complete."
Various immediate solutions are being investigated, even the potential redirection of effluent from the Outeniqua WWTW drainage area to the Gwaiing WWTW, that has some available capacity.
"Developers will work together with municipal planners to try to align their development implementation time-lines with that of capacity availability."
He said the options being considered are all subject to budget approval and will be presented at the next adjustment budget that is being fast tracked to also account for financial amendments due to Covid and the pandemic's impact.
'Fine balancing act'
"The capacity of the WWTW is needed by both social and economic development and both are considered of equal importance. Balancing the considerable cost to implement major bulk infrastructure extensions - and the financial impact on the annual budget - with the timeous commissioning of these major works to meet growth in demand, remains a fine balancing act. The extremely unfortunate delay experienced with the mechanical and electrical contract has upset planning at a most unfortunate and difficult time."
He said the municipality is aware of numerous rumours and "false information" circulating and it commits to providing regular feedback to the public to keep them informed.
700 new houses
Brown said the Koraalboom Familie Landgoed will comprise a total of 200 houses of which 30 houses form the first phase. Other developers are also interested to develop a further 500 houses on adjacent land in that same area, and in Short Street a developer wants to put up 77 flats. These would all be served by the eastern pipeline and would be affected by the capacity constraints of the WWTW.
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