The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has finally given the go-ahead for the River Club redevelopment in Cape Town, following a series of legal wranglings over the site’s heritage and environmental status.
The R5 billion planned mixed-use development in Observatory, will be a boost to the economy and the people of Cape Town in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown, says the Western Cape government.
Further employment will be created by the tenants that will occupy the offices, residential and retail spaces that form part of the development, located at the confluence of the Black and Liesbeek rivers.
This will also help provide a lifeline to the construction industry, which has seen more than 25 000 jobs lost so far this year, said Jody Aufrichtig, spokesperson for the developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust.
Heritage Cultural and Media Centre
He added that the River Club redevelopment project will also serve as a first-of-its-kind landmark in the city for the indigenous groups of people in Cape Town, or First Nations, to reclaim, memorialise and share their heritage with the greater public.
Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust said they have actively sought and “engaged representatives of First Nations peoples continuously over the past three years” in formulating the development proposal, and that representatives of the First Nations peoples have expressed their support for the proposed redevelopment.
“The planned Heritage Cultural and Media Centre will be operated by the First Nations people and will provide critical job opportunities to members of these communities. This initiative follows extensive and constructive engagements with the senior Indigenous Khoi and San leaders comprising the First Nations Collective.”
“The First Nations’ rich history will be further commemorated through the inclusion of symbols central to the First Nation’s narrative in the landscaping, architectural iconography and educational signage in the open spaces.”
The project will also include an indigenous medicinal garden that will be planted, cultivated and used by the First Nations people, as well as a heritage-eco trail and garden amphitheatre for use by the First Nations and the general public, which will provide a platform to celebrate this heritage.
A large part of the development will consist of safe recreational public spaces including running and cycling pathways, public viewing areas and seating areas along the rehabilitated and clean riverbank.
Twenty percent of the development will be allocated to residential use, of which one fifth will be dedicated to developer-subsidised inclusionary housing.
“The development will provide a range of socioeconomic benefits for surrounding communities. It will provide an opportunity to address the injustices of Apartheid spatial planning and to rehabilitate the current degraded, inaccessible private space into a publicly accessible amenity in an urban park environment, with significantly enhanced ecological value.”
Liesbeek Leisure Properties said the redevelopment will include 65% of open landscaped space that will enhance the indigenous flora and fauna of the area. It will also be accessible for the enjoyment of the general public, while delivering numerous other benefits including job creation, small business opportunities, affordable housing and a new independent school.
“There are large open areas surrounding the River Club property that will remain in public ownership, and will continue to form part of the public open space system,” the developer said.
“In this tough economic climate, we look forward to delivering a development that presents many exciting opportunities for the people of Cape Town and the Western Cape,” Aufrichtig said.