Land claimants ob­ject to rough deal as golfers get first choice

Plans to shift fa­cil­ity open can of worms in Winelands town

Sunday Times - - News | Land - By BOBBY JOR­DAN

● A plan to re­lo­cate one of the coun­try’s old­est golf clubs has pro­voked ac­cu­sa­tions of foul play in the heart of the Cape winelands.

The 110-year-old Welling­ton Golf Club, nes­tled be­tween a rub­bish dump and a for­mer coloured town­ship, this week voted to back the plan for a more up­mar­ket site on the out­skirts of town.

The new course would mostly be on va­cant pri­vate and mu­nic­i­pal land, but would in­clude a small par­cel of land be­long­ing to the na­tional gov­ern­ment and ear­marked as a sports field for Huguenot High School.

The pro­posal has prompted dis­sent not only in the school com­mu­nity but among a group of land claimants who have waited 22 years for resti­tu­tion — and who ac­cuse Drak­en­stein mu­nic­i­pal­ity of favour­ing profit over peo­ple. They say any va­cant mu­nic­i­pal land should be granted to them.

There are also fears that the pro­posed land swap is linked to a mu­nic­i­pal­ity-led plan to lo­cate a gi­ant waste in­cin­er­a­tor next to the cur­rent nine-hole course — a plan shelved af­ter a le­gal chal­lenge by res­i­dents.

It is also un­clear whether the gov­ern­ment would al­low de­vel­op­ers to use land ear­marked for the high school. The de­part­ments of pub­lic works and ed­u­ca­tion are look­ing into the mat­ter.

Doc­u­ments seen by the Sun­day Times this week show that pub­lic works trans­ferred the land to the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment in 2016. It was ear­marked for the school but has now been in­cor­po­rated into the pro­posed new golf course, ac­cord­ing to the de­vel­op­ment pro­posal sub­mit­ted to the golf club this week.

In con­trast to the pic­turesque new site, the cur­rent course — con­sid­ered the cheap­est and most ac­ces­si­ble golf club in the winelands — is bi­sected by a ma­jor road and lies in the shadow of the mu­nic­i­pal dump.

The head of the Sakkieskamp claimant com­mu­nity, Pa­trick Kohli, said peo­ple were sus­pi­cious of the golf course pro­posal be­cause they feared the mu­nic­i­pal­ity might pur­sue com­mer­cial rather than so­cial de­vel­op­ment on the va­cated site.

“We were told the mu­nic­i­pal­ity doesn’t have land for claimants,” said Kohli, who lives in a shack in nearby Mbek­weni. “They can’t sell that land [the old golf course] un­til our prob­lem is solved.”

How­ever, pro­po­nents of the new de­vel­op­ment said it could solve, not ex­ac­er­bate, the town’s so­cial hous­ing prob­lems.

David Wad­dilove, who is mar­ket­ing the pro­posal, said af­ford­able hous­ing was part of the mo­ti­va­tion for the move. He de­nied any link be­tween the pro­posal and the waste in­cin­er­a­tor.

“I am aware that there are so­cial pres­sures, but the fact of the mat­ter is that as long as the golf club stays where it is, the land can’t be used for any­thing else,” Wad­dilove said. “By re­lo­cat­ing the golf club we open up op­por­tu­ni­ties for the town.

“It cer­tainly won’t help the town that this should be­come some­thing di­vi­sive. Hope­fully, we as res­i­dents can help for­mu­late a vi­sion of how we want the town to look in 20 years.”

Golf club man­ager Er­win Rix said mem­bers were fed up with ram­pant crime at the site, where play­ers were some­times robbed. He said a con­di­tion of the move was re­ten­tion of the same mem­ber­ship and green fees, so that mem­bers would not be excluded due to es­ca­lat­ing costs. “It won’t cost us a cent to move,” Rix said.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity said the golf course pro­posal had been re­ferred to a tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee. Act­ing plan­ning man­ager David De­laney said: “As far as the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is con­cerned, the pro­posal has been put on ice and is not ap­proved un­til we re­ceive the nec­es­sary tech­ni­cal and other in­for­ma­tion from the de­vel­oper.”

He con­firmed that the plan en­tailed de­vel­op­ing the cur­rent golf site for in­dus­trial pur­poses and af­ford­able hous­ing.

The pro­posal is also be­ing con­sid­ered by the school gov­ern­ing body, which has been of­fered a par­cel of al­ter­na­tive mu­nic­i­pal land. But Pierre Ger­ber, who helped se­cure the land for the school three years ago, said the school had no man­date to do deals with de­vel­op­ers — and per­mis­sion for a land swap should come from the na­tional gov­ern­ment.

He said the pro­posed al­ter­na­tive land for the sports field was vastly in­fe­rior to the cur­rent site, which was a valu­able as­set to the school com­mu­nity.

Pic­ture: David Har­ri­son

Pa­trick Kohli, chair­man of the Sakkieskamp land claimant group, wants so­cial hous­ing on the old golf club site.

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