La­goon Bay still in limbo

Hold­ing costs run into mil­lions while plan­ning au­thor­i­ties drag their feet

Finweek English Edition - - Property - JOAN MULLER

ANUM­BER OF golf es­tate de­vel­op­ers in the West­ern Cape have ap­par­ently been wait­ing for more than a year to get the nec­es­sary go-ahead (or dis­missal) for their projects from plan­ning au­thor­i­ties. Mean­while, hold­ing costs on many of th­ese multi-mil­lion rand pro­posed de­vel­op­ments con­tinue to mount.

This fol­lows the re­lease at end-2005 of stricter de­vel­op­ment guide­lines for golf and polo es­tates by Tas­neem Essop, West­ern Cape MEC for en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs, plan­ning and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

The de­vel­oper of the R6bn La­goon Bay project, one of the big­gest planned golf and eco es­tates on the Gar­den Route near Ge­orge, has been wait­ing for 14 months to ob­tain fi­nal ap­proval for a so-called guide plan amend­ment. This re­lates to the con­ver­sion of for­mer agri­cul­tural land for hous­ing pur­poses.

La­goon Bay de­vel­oper Werner Roux says the guide plan amend­ment was ap­proved by the Ge­orge mu­nic­i­pal­ity at end-2005. Four­teen months later Roux is still not sure when or even if he will get the go-ahead for the project, which will boast two 18-hole golf cour­ses de­signed by Retief Goosen.

Roux says more than R100m has al­ready been spent on plan­ning ap­proval ap­pli­ca­tions, en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact stud­ies, pro­fes­sional fees, mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and de­posits for the 800ha of land ear­marked for La­goon Bay.

Three-year op­tions to buy the land from ex­ist­ing own­ers have re­cently lapsed and “mil­lions” in non-re­fund­able de­posits have been lost be­cause some landown­ers are no longer will­ing to sell. Roux says those who have agreed to ex­tend their op­tions have raised their ask­ing prices.

Al­though many in­vestors who have taken an op­tion to buy prop­erty at La­goon Bay are still hop­ing for a pos­i­tive out­come, Roux says more than 200 in­vestors have can­celled their deals. Th­ese de­posits have been re­paid.

Ri­aan Gous, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Ara­bella Group, says it’s un­ac­cept­able that de­vel­op­ers have to wait so long for de­ci­sions to be made by plan­ning au­thor­i­ties. Mat­ters are made worse be­cause lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are not com­mu­ni­cat­ing with de­vel­op­ers. Ara­bella is still wait­ing for an ap­peal to be heard af­ter an ap­pli­ca­tion to go ahead with a sec­ond phase at the Ara­bella Golf Course near Her­manus was dis­missed more than a year ago.

By the time we went to print last week, Essop and her spokesper­son had not re­sponded to any of Fin­week’s ques­tions.

Leav­ing de­vel­op­ers out in the cold. Tas­neem


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