After years of being embroiled in a legal battle with Heritage Western Cape and much pushback from residents in the area, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has approved the River Club redevelopment in Observatory.
Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust purchased the the 14.7ha property from Transnet in 2015 for R12m. The R5 billion project proposes the delivery of a mixed-use development that will make a major contribution towards creating a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous City and Province, and will convert private closed space into space that’s accessible to the public.
The proposed redevelopment will have a number of positive economic spin-offs including: Job creation for 5 239 people during the construction phase with a total value of R1.6 billion as well contributing 13 700 indirect and induced jobs.
On completion of construction over 860 people will be employed during the operational phase (with an estimate wage bill of R200 million per annum) and indirect employees are likely to support an additional 1700 dependents.
A significant portion of the proposed 150 000m² of floor area will be space for retailers and offices to stimulate business development and contribute towards the growing need for decentralised centres of business outside of CBD.
The development will also offer a range of other socio-economic benefits such as: 65% of the site will be retained as Green Space; 20% of the residential space will be dedicated inclusive housing; the majority of the site will be dedicated, safe recreational spaces and pathways; a Heritage and Cultural Centre that will memorialise the history of the area and educate the public, (the centre will be an inclusive process involving all parties who have an interest in the historical and symbolic significance of the area); upgrades to the surrounding road infrastructure and public transport facilities; the establishment of an accessible private school, and the application of 5 star green building and design principles, including water and power efficiencies.
It is clear that the project presents many exciting opportunities for the people of the Western Cape. “We look forward to our continued interactions with all interested and affected groups and stakeholders over the next few weeks, while the prescribed development proposal processes are underway.”