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Wednesday May 23, 2012

Vetch property development gets go-ahead

After several lengthy delays, the eThekwini municipality has given the controversial Point waterfront development the green light to lease part of the sea and beach to build a small-craft harbour and luxury hotel at Vetch's Pier.

But any hope of development getting off the ground soon was dashed when the Save Vetch's Association threatened to "lodge whatever legal challenge is required" to interdict against any construction at the waterfront zone.

The city's top brass yesterday agreed to lease the Vetch's Pier area for 99 years for the construction and maintenance of the small-craft harbour with a nominal rent of R1 000 a year, but with the rental for the full period amounting to R99 000 to be paid upfront.

Last week The city's legal department was asked by the executive committee to clarify whether the Integrated Coastal Management Act of 2009 or the Seashore Act of 1935 should be adopted when negotiating leases with the developers.

DA caucus leader Tex Collins said that it would be unlawful to rely on the outdated Seashore Act, which was in conflict with the newer Integrated Coastal Management Act of 2009.

But municipal legal services head Nokhana Moerane said certain sections of the Integrated Coastal Management Act of 2009 had not been brought into operation.

The Durban Point Development Company had applied to Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele to lease the Vetch's Pier area, relying on the old Seashore Act and because the land was part of the Durban harbour, which was covered by the SA Transport Services Act.

However, according to the newer coastal law, public property could only be leased for a maximum of 20 years, unless a longer lease was approved by Parliament.

Collins said building a small-craft harbour was not in the interest of the entire Durban community. ANC councillor Nigel Gumede accused Collins of having a personal interest in the matter. But Collins said that he was acting in the interest of ratepayers.

Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said his party would not support the recommendation until the court cases had been finalised. Save Vetch's Association chairman Tony Ferreira said the association would not back down.

Neels Brink, for the Durban Point Development Company, said the city's decision was "very good news". City manager S'bu Sithole said the development was important for the Point precinct.

The Mercury

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