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Monday Sep 02, 2013

Property owners' concern over Beachwood golf course proposal

For decades it has been all that stood between them and the sea. Now Durban North residents living near Beachwood golf course are horrified to hear that 19 houses could be built on the course and a public road to Virginia Beach could be closed.

Dean Macpherson stands on Beachwood Golf Course explaining a proposal of town houses to be built in front of the other homes overlooking the golf course.

This is according to a proposal presented to members and eThekwini Municipality by the Durban Country Club, which owns Beachwood.

The only other access to the beach is 800m north of the proposed development.

Durban North DA councillor Dean Macpherson said the land that the golf club intended developing was given to it by a past local authority and the profits from its development should benefit all Durban residents.

'It would be unfair to the residents of Durban and Durban North that a profit be made from this land, should any development go through, without compensation, in whatever form, considering the community would be losing open space,' he said.

Macpherson said the proposed restriction of a public road (Beachwood Close), leading to the beach, would be 'highly problematic' and infringe the public's right to use the beach.

The plan was first discussed at a members-only meeting at Durban Country Club last week. No residents living along the site said they were invited. Officials of the embattled Durban Country Club, which is looking to settle R29 million in loans, are confident permission for rezoning would be granted by Christmas.

Richard Pemberton, chairman of the club, said the facility was depending on the proposed development to repay a R29m loan owed to a trust established last year by members to prevent the club from closing.

'We have had to try to find ways to repay our loan. According to our agreement, we have to start doing that by 2014. We can't do it without the development,' he said.

Pemberton said a professional team had been employed to develop a plan.

'It will go a long way to paying our debt,' he said.

The golf course adjoins Virginia Airport, whose future is also uncertain as the city weighs up development options.

City manager S'bu Sithole, who has said the city was looking at unlocking a number of sites in Durban, including Beachwood, to broaden the rates base, commented that he had not had seen the proposal.

'I don't want to hastily reply to something that has not come to us,' Sithole said.

Norman Christoforos, a Fairway resident, said the development was an 'awful' idea and that it would not stop with 19 houses.

'Durban Country Club is experiencing major financial problems and I believe they want a foot in the door and, before you know, the entire golf course will go.'
Christoforos was also opposed to the proposal to restrict access to the beach.

The vast majority of Fairway residents were against the development, said Ingrid Moolman, who has been living in Fairway for 57 years.

She feared the golf course would be closed permanently and was upset that residents had not been consulted.

Angela Baker, an architect and concerned resident, echoed Moolman's sentiment and described the proposal as 'a poor solution to financial problems'.

'I am opposed to the proposal. Beachwood is an asset to Durban,' she said.

The acting chairman of the Fairway Residents' Forum, Hilton Naish, said a public meeting was scheduled in two weeks for people to comment on the plan.

The Mercury


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