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Bid to float Plett harbour plan

20 January 2014
Yolande Stander

WHILE the controversial R4-billion small boat harbour development on the cards for Plettenberg Bay has been met with massive opposition from residents, the town's township community has now embarked on a campaign in support of the project.

Residents of Kwanokuthula on the outskirts of the holiday town believe the development could bring job opportunities to a community plagued by unemployment.

"More than 70% of our residents are unemployed and most of the rest only have casual jobs once or twice a week, so we really need a project like this," community leader Lulamile Klaas said yesterday.

The planned 87000m² development by Western Cape Marina Investments - which will stretch from the Piesang River estuary and along the town's popular Central Beach - is set to include 482 residential units, 1343m² of office space, a 110-room five-star hotel, mansions, 8700m² of retail space, a plaza, a yacht club and more than 2000 parking bays.

While the final scoping report, released late last year by Port Elizabeth-based CEN IEM Unit, highlighted various potential negative environmental and socio-economic impacts, it also revealed the project's massive job creation opportunities. It is expected that during the four years of construction more than 960 jobs willbe created per year with about 460 being direct jobs. Of these, 420 are expected to be for semi- skilled workers from the surrounding communities. About 70% of all the jobs are expected to go to residents of Bitou and the rest from within the Western Cape.

The report also revealed that the potential operational revenue could create more than 1400 jobs with about 900 in direct employment, about 180 indirect jobs and about 390 induced employment opportunities.

Plettenberg Bay Business Chamber chairman and local businessman Barries Ferreira said the development could however have a negative impact on businesses during the construction phase, but agreed that the project would also bring in much- needed economic stimulation.

"The development would mean job creation that we desperately need and our beachfront definitely needs an upgrade."

Over the past few weeks Klaas and a number of volunteers have been going door to door explaining the proposed project to residents and gathering signatures in support of it. "We also called a public meeting recently and the hall was packed with people showing their support."

In the meantime campaigns against the development are still in full force. The proposal has seen massive opposition from residents, who last year formed a human NO-sign on Central Beach, and prompted residents to establish the Save Plett Alliance and appoint a legal team to protect their interests.

Their main objections include the scope of the development being out of kilter with the size of the town as well as the potential impact on the environment.

The Save Plett Alliance over the festive season released 3D graphic renderings showing the face of the popular holiday destination changing from a pristine main beach and estuary area to a modern developed area with massive buildings and little of the popular sandy beach remaining.

Alliance spokesman Basil van Rooyen earlier said the brochure was aimed at motivating residents to read the scoping report and comment on it.

The deadline for comments was January 17, but Van Rooyen said they had managed to extend the period to February 7.

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