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Tongaat Hulett’s renewed promise to consider Umdloti residents’ concerns over the concrete jungle developing on their doorstep fell on skeptical ears at last week’s meeting at Dube Tradeport.
After Tongaat Hulett (TH) recently submitted a special consent application about significant height changes to Node 1 of the Sibaya development, which the residents felt was done in an “underhanded manner”, they have now re-submitted the application, giving Umdlotians until March 22 to lodge their concerns.
However, the residents’ trust in the massive development which has been dubbed “the Berlin wall” has faltered.
Georgie O’Connell Rayner said she felt TH had crossed a moral line.
“This is an ethical issue. We have settled in Umdloti for a specific quality of life and we are being denied of our investment and vision for our retirement in a quiet, natural environment if Tongaat Hulett is not open and honest about what they are planning next door to us,” said O’Connell Rayner.
Besides the height increases to the buildings along the M4, which in some cases are doubling in height going from four to nine storeys, the proposed increase to the height of two of the buildings along the forest edge is a particularly sore point.
Fellow resident Mark Smith said TH is trying to whitewash the height increase of the two buildings along the forest edge.
“They are doing their best to promote these buildings as two storey buildings when they are increasing them from 3,5 to 5,5 metres high,” said Smith.
“The forest adjacent to the Sibaya precinct is a D’Moss protected area and TH must remain mindful of this. Just because there is a fence separating the forest from the development does not shelter the wildlife from the effects of human activity such as light and noise pollution,” said Smith.
Tongaat Hulett developments head of portfolio strategy Rory Wilkinson said they welcomed input from Umdloti residents.
“The Umdloti community are quite rightly passionate about the unique forest habitats that they have had the benefit of enjoying and have played an important role in protecting these critical areas.
“We are currently reviewing a number of potential amendments following the written comments and public meeting and will be communicating the outcome within the next few days,” said Wilkinson.
An artist impression of the corner building of Ocean Dune at the M4 circle which is proposed to be increased to nine storeys.
He said the forests and open space systems are fundamental to Sibaya Coastal Precinct’s vision and all amendments would not prejudice that in any way.
“All buildings are set back a minimum of 40 metres from the forest edge – as approved in the EIA – and that none of the amendments in this application impact the forest, hence there are no further investigations required.
“The Sibaya Conservation Trust has now been established as the institutional structure to oversee these forested areas and will be responsible for the rehabilitation, management and protection of these spaces.”
However, due to the scale and nature of the development, Wilkinson said it was important to bare in mind that it will roll out potentially over a 25 to 50-year time frame, and hence refinements to details should be expected.
“It is impossible to define all the technical detail at inception and one can anticipate similar such special consent applications on an ongoing basis going forward.”
The Umdloti UIP‘s Terry Rens said the improved communication between Tongaat Hulett and Umdloti residents was a good step.
“Development in Sibaya is happening faster than even Tongaat Hulett anticipated. This is a good thing, but we need to ensure they stick to the record of decision on the EIA and the originally approved scheme map,” said Rens.