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Tuesday Jun 12, 2012

Lagoon Bay golf development fades away

Plans for the controversial Lagoon Bay lifestyle estate between George and Mossel Bay have changed significantly, with a twin-course luxury golf estate being dropped in favour of a smaller agricultural estate that includes a 173-unit retirement village.

Garden Route market has collapsed

And backer Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), which has sunk more than R300 million into the project, has now taken control.

This is according to court papers lodged in an application by the developer for condonation of the late lodgement of its appeal against a Western Cape High Court decision.

Last August, Judge Bennie Griesel ruled that Environment and Planning MEC Anton Bredell had been entitled to refuse the required rezoning and subdivision.

In his founding affidavit for condonation, developer Werner Roux said there were three reasons for the delay in submitting an appeal:

The company had faced a "financial crisis" after losing the case, with RMB threatening to call in its loan.

Its attorneys had insisted on their outstanding fees being paid.

The court decision had required renegotiations with landowners.

Bredell is the first respondent, the second is the George Municipality, and the third is the non-governmental group, Cape Windlass Environmental Action Group.

The action group is bringing a separate High Court review application, challenging the environmental approval for the development given by Bredell's predecessor, Pierre Uys, in 2009.

In his affidavit, chairman Wilhelm Gericke said the developers' affidavit was "only telling half the truth" by implying that the original development proposal would continue, "albeit in a revised and scaled-down version".

"The truth of the matter is that the original development proposal has been abandoned. It is public knowledge that the market for luxury leisure developments on the Garden Route has collapsed."

Bredell's spokesman, Peter Pullen, said the MEC would oppose an appeal but had not yet decided whether to oppose the application for condonation of late notice.

Cape Argus

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