Province rejects property development above Glencairn

The socio-economic benefits of a proposed development of 65 middle-to-high income houses on the mountain slopes above Glencairn would be minimal compared to the negative impacts on the natural environment, the provincial department of environment and planning has ruled.

And it has rejected the argument that the proposed development would create funds that would enable the owner to clear invasive alien vegetation.

The department pointed out that the owner had a legal obligation under the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act to clear the land of aliens, irrespective of any development.

The province said it had been acknowledged that the best-case scenario for this ecologically sensitive property was to transfer it to the SA National Parks to allow it to be managed for long-term conservation.

The 35-hectare property, Erf 60, is owned by charity group Gordons. Most of the property borders the existing Glencairn Heights development and the Table Mountain National Park, above the Glencairn Expressway. It is unused, undeveloped and neglected, according to the development application.

On the small lower part of the property is a recreational camp for previously disadvantaged and, particularly, underprivileged children.

The property is part of the 300ha Glencairn Youth Camp. Rotary has an agreement with the Table Mountain National Park to manage the part of the land it doesn't use. According to the application, the camp was in a state of "some disrepair", but the organisation had not been able to fund its upgrade.

Gordons said the remaining upper portion of Erf 60 represented its "most valuable asset", and it commissioned a team to help it develop about 9.5ha here "as appropriately and sensitively as possible".

This would enable it to clear and maintain the upper parts, upgrade the facilities lower in the valley below the expressway, and "establish adequate reserve funds such that the organisation is able to operate into perpetuity", the application stated.

The province turned down the application, saying that no investigation had been done of market demand for such a residential development. Also, the site was ecologically sensitive, particularly because of a natural spring and associated aquatic features.

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