JEF fully supports and agrees that Plett need retirement villages to cater for both our local, national and even international needs bring the associated jobs to our town and bring much needed additional disposable income to support our local economy. Over the last few years several applications have been made to both Provincial and Local Government. They are still in the “pipeline” i.e. lying on the Government shelf, are subject to the legal process in our Courts or the developer has given up.
None has made it so far thanks to the DA governed Provincial Government. We were very interested to learn that “TSOKWANE” Retirement Resort, on the grounds of the old Keurboom’s Hotel, suddenly, at record speed, got the site development plan approved by both Western Cape Provincial Government Environmental Affairs Development Planning (DEAD-P) and Bitou Municipality.
The Developers, “Proud Heritage Properties (Pty) Ltd”, informed the public in an article in the CXPRESS that “If you are interested in either a living unit or investment opportunities, send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org”. It is thus safe to assume that the Pre-Sales, which are required to finance the development, have started.
We made a few calls and stumbled on some very interesting information:
The Board of Directors of Proud Heritage (Pty) Ltd received an “Amendment” on 09 May 2012 to an Environmental Authorization (“EA”) from DEAD-P (Land Management Region 1) dated 9 June 2008 for the Upgrade of Keurbooms Hotel and Chalets that will comprise of the following:
The construction of 64 resort units. That is regarded as a non-substantive amendment to the “EA”.
The environment and the rights and interests of other parties are not likely to be adversely affected by this decision to amend the “EA”.
We did a search of Directors of Proud Heritage (Pty) Ltd and came across 3 very familiar names in DA circles, especially when it comes to donating money to the DA. And low and behold, all of them are connected to the Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum (PBCEF). They are Mr. Hilton Davies, Mr. Neville Pietersen, and Mr. Rudi Martin. Also very interesting is the fact that the “Approval of the Amendment” to the “EA”, was CC’d to Mrs. D. Grant (Grant Johnston Associates), who is also connected to the PBCEF.
As the Article in the CXPress states that the “Resort” will comprise of 120 sectional units and 40 Health & Frail care suites/units the Development DOUBLED in size, all without a “Legal Advertisement” invited I&AP’s to respond as, as stated under 1; It is a NON-SUBSTANTIVE amendment to the previous “EA”.
Even more interesting is a letter from DEAD-P (Land Management: Region 1) dated 14 May 2012 relating to the same application. In this letter, signed 5 days after the Amended ROD was approved by the Director Mr. Ayub Mohamed, the same department informs the town planner involved Ms. Wendy Floyd, that:
- Refer to your letter W047212 (304/3) dated 28 October 2011.
- Kindly note that this Office concurs with the recommendations of Bitou Municipality that this application be referred back to the applicant.
- The applicant is requested to withdraw the above application and submit a new application for the amendment of Condition 2.1 together with a revised site development plan.
- The applicant is further requested to submit an application in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), 1998 (Act 107 of 1998), to this Department to amend the 2008 site development plan.
From the above we understand that DEAD-P agreed with the recommendations of Bitou Municipality (Planning Department that was headed by Mr. L. Gericke on the date of the letter dated 28 October 2011) and that the Application was flawed.
It is extremely interesting that the Application “Suddenly” got all the approvals, after Mr. Gericke had “Resigned” his position.
Did Bitou Municipality withdraw its earlier recommendations to DEAD-P? But DEAD-P confirmed in writing that it “Concurred” with the recommendations?
So, how on earth could the Director of Land Use Management (Region 1) Mr. AYUB Mohamed sign of the Amended “Environmental Authorization 5 days earlier?????
We also understand that the PBCEF “Objected” to a planning application for a Retirement Village on land bordering the Keurboom’s Hotel several years ago. That application was subsequently “Refused” by DEAD-P. One would have thought that the “Reasons given for that Objection by the PBCEF” would also apply to the “Tsokwane Retirement Resort” next door.
“Resort”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary meaning “A place visited for holiday’s or recreation”, i.e. a Hotel. Not permanent occupation like a Retirement Village that, as we understand requires a different Zoning Certificate.
The only logical conclusion JEF can deduce out of all of this is that if you bet money on the right horse before MAY 2011, you are definitely in the pound seats today!