Gordon's Bay residents reject mountain estate

Residents of Gordon's Bay have given an angry thumbs-down to controversial development plans for high on the mountainside above the seaside village.

Yesterday consultants presented their draft environmental impact report on the proposed 90-house security village, Suiderbossie Estate, which will sit just beneath the famous GB sign.

But residents gave them a hostile reception at the Van Riebeeck hotel last night and accused the consultants of being arrogant and liars.

This is the developers' third bid to get the mountain-side development approved - they tried first in 1981 and then in 1989/1990.

Gordonia Mount Properties, with new shareholders, began their third attempt for approval 18 months ago and hired Withers Environmental Consultants, of Stellenbosch, to conduct their research for their plan.

Gordon's Bay residents first voiced their objections last year. Yesterday the consulting firm presented its findings.

The event was meant to have been an open day, at which residents could study the plans and ask questions of the various experts hired by the consultants. But, instead, the experts met an angry crowd who began demanding answers and hurling insults at them.

Residents are opposed to the development for a variety of reasons - including their safety, the threat to the natural environment and the potential scar that the development would leave on the fynbos mountainside.

In their report, the consultants systematically proposed solutions to each concern. But residents were largely unconvinced.

Some residents fear that they and their homes will be at risk during construction due to potential rock falls on the steep, rocky mountainside above them.

One proposed solution is nets similar to those used above Chapman's Peak Drive. But one resident said: "In this prestigious, pristine area, where people have spent millions, we must now forever sleep in fear!"

Others voiced concern that the local municipal infrastructure would not be able to handle the extra load.

Another resident asked about the potential impact on guest houses and tourism during the construction period, which could take years.

Local ANC councillor Anton Fuchs said to the developers: "You and your people have not done your homework. This document is not worth the paper it is written on."

Another resident asked: "Is there any benefit whatsoever for Gordon's Bay?"

"The only beneficiaries will be the developers!" another angry home-owner said to thunderous applause.

Residents have until November 25 to object again in writing. The developers will then submit their proposal to the provincial government.

Copies of the full draft environmental impact report are available at Helderberg libraries.

Article by: Murray Williams - www.capeargus.co.za