There are several misleading rumours and distorted information being circulated regarding the development proposals for the land south of the Garden Route dam.
Below is a summary that contains the factual account of the intended development and the anticipated benefits for the city of George and it’s communities as a whole that has motivated the initiation of this development:
The George Municipality appointed Aurecon South Africa (Pty) Ltd. to prepare and submit an application for rezoning (including Departure and Consent use) and subdivision on a 118ha portion of the Remainder of Erf George adjacent to the Garden Route Dam in order to establish suitable rights on the site for the purposes of a university/research institute/academy in order to maximise the potential social, economic and environmental benefits on this site and to improve access to this site to the benefit of the entire community. The site has been earmarked for urban expansion since the adoption of the Municipal Spatial Development Framework in 2013 and has been included within the urban edge as potential land for expansion ever since.
An ROD for business development on a portion on the site was granted through previous applications lodged. After various studies, socio-economic analyses, stakeholder workshops and site visits with a range of specialists, a concept for this proposed university/research institute/academy was developed to harness potential synergies in support of the business development and serve as catalyst for infrastructure upgrades in the area. The rezoning and subdivision application is based on the consolidated findings and recommendations from the respective specialist studies. The key component of the development proposal is the proposed campus, of which the basis is the provision of educational spaces and facilities and mixed uses, which is collectively referred to as the campus. Findings from various socio-economic studies indicate that a university/research institute/academy would become a regional attraction and would greatly contribute to the growth of George. The institution will be required to adhere to the prescripts of the Department of Higher Education and is aimed to complement existing tertiary institutions in the area. Greater diversity in curricula, presenting more options for local youth, is considered to aid in the retention of youth, skills and knowledge in our area.
The residential land uses are seen to be first and foremost to support the campus environment and could also evolve and grow into various products that can be used for students during term and holidaymakers during the holidays. A variety of types of housing is planned that could cater for undergrad students, lecturers, visiting lecturers, post grad students through to single residential erven. The varied public uses, which takes full advantage of the scenic nature of the site, are and will continue to be accessible to the community of George as well as the campus users.
Thorough Civil Engineering Services investigations were undertaken to determine the current infrastructure and services that are available to the site in order to assess what upgrades will be required to ensure that there is sufficient civil infrastructure to service and support this proposed development. Specific care was also taken to make sure that measures are put in place to limit any pollution of the water courses and the Garden Route Dam from the proposed development. These measures are informed by the environmental impact assessment, supported by a detailed aquatic study and storm water management plan.
A traffic impact study was also conducted to assess the traffic impact of the proposed development as well as detail any potential road upgrades that will be required due to the proposed development. There is a strong pedestrian focus built into the design of the development. The campus area is connected to the business area and the sport and student housing area with a Campus Walk. Additional walkways and pathways are also planned to run throughout the development and to use the opportunities alongside the green belts to create strong connections to the various precincts of the development. The areas on the edge of the dam and sports fields present opportunities for public parks, picnic areas and recreational activities. These are connected to the Waterfront business area via walkways and paths.
As per the findings of the various environmental studies undertaken on the site, this development proposal places strong emphasis on the preservation and enhancement of natural assets present on the site. This development proposal has strategically harnessed the high-quality vegetation in order to allow these natural systems to flourish and contribute to the sustainability of this proposed development. The riparian areas have been maintained in the development proposal and selected buffer areas have been placed around these riparian zones. In order for the natural environment to maintain its functionality, this development proposal further makes use of green belts throughout the site and at strategic locations these green belts are used as buffers and beautification tools and honours the sense of place. Understanding the importance of the functions of the natural resources on this site has played an integral role in the layout of the proposed residential, educational, commercial and public spaces.
The inclusion of adequate recreational spaces on the site is also an important aspect of the development proposal. The natural beauty of the site will further be enjoyed by the public through the inclusion of picnic areas along the water’s edge as well as exploring the natural features of the surroundings such as the picturesque Garden Route Dam and Katrivier Nature Reserve.
Benefits of the proposed development:
- The proposed development will dramatically contribute to enhancing access to tertiary education. New employment opportunities will aid in generating income and enhancement of local skills and knowledge can act as stimulus to the local economy through trade entrepreneurship. This will contribute towards improvement of sustainable livelihoods in the community. This proposal is aligned with current spatial objectives both local and national.
- The development proposal is built on inclusivity, productivity, resilience and opportunity and the proposed land uses fully rely on these principles. The proposed development also aims to fully protect and enhance the natural assets of the site and has incorporated these assets as a key part of the development proposal.
- The resultant improvement of custodianship, surveillance and risk management will serve not only the direct local community, but the community of George as a whole.
- The proposed development is anticipated to yield significant benefits in terms of social, economic and environmental aspects and will thus contribute to the sustainable development model of George Municipality.