Plett Harbour Developer's Secret Meeting with Tourism… or Not? — No Comments

  1. For those who do not know about the principles, here is a brief history.
    As I remember the history of this harbour in Plett
    In 1996, the fishing industry was booming, so Plett council appointed
    consultants to design a harbour, and presented the design to the public.
    – Luxury waterfront apartments, a breakwater from the BI in front of
    central beach, no more lagoon for the kiddies! This caused a public
    backlash, prompting various counter-proposals.
    The council wisely sponsored a (well attended) public workshop to
    resolve the issue, and all proposals were presented. Those present,
    were asked to choose which project they preferred, and group together to
    discuss. This left a small bunch standing in the middle of the hall,
    who felt that none of the proposals addressed all the concerns of
    residents, and set about discussing basic principals that would apply to
    the harbour, or in fact any major infrastructure development. These were
    (in a nutshell)
    1. By Plett, for Plett
    2. Must be part of an holistic structure plan for Plett
    3. Lead to economic stability and business out of season
    4. Design Principles
    a. Afrocentric design
    b. Ecologically advanced and efficient
    c. Evoke a sense of pride
    d. Based on open competition
    5. Financial – must be sustainable, not be a burden on the ratepayer
    6. Must include an educational element.
    A steering committee was formed, with delegates from the various groups,
    and some councilors. Many meetings, to thrash out an acceptable
    solution. As I remember it, the principles were adopted as fundamental
    to the development. Studies were done, and ultimately it was decided
    that the Piesang mouth was the preferred option, with access from South
    of the BI, ie. cut through the parking, and have a drawbridge to the BI.
    (BI was never really happy about this)
    At this point, council disbanded the steering committee, and called for
    proposals. These were not publicly discussed, and council appointed the
    current developers who have done nothing about it for over 10 years! –
    now they get a second chance? The problem was that they were required to
    fund the EIA, at the risk that the outcome of the EIA is negative about
    the project. Now we are presented with a proposal that clearly has not
    considered the principles that came from a valid public participation
    What is the chance of a responsible EIA recommending a harbour in the
    Piesang – almost zero.
    Sensitive estuary
    Popular beach
    Constant dredging
    Negative traffic impact
    Perhaps we could have a harbour that is truly ‘green’. Stringent
    control, energy generation, water filtration, I have not found an example.
    The question now is “do we need a harbour?”
    The problem with development funding major infrastructure projects, is
    that the profit from the development needs to be spent on the harbour
    infrastructure, so for the developers and investors to make money, the
    development needs to be so large that the extra R50 mil or whatever it
    costs to build a harbour is recoverable, and they still want profit.
    A waterfront development without a harbour would be far smaller to be
    viable, and human scale.
    What about a simple floating jetty? From Hobie beach perhaps?
    Of the 11 proposals submitted for the airport, only 1 was presented to
    the public?
    OK, the public are not experts on harbours or airports, although some
    may be, but the public are experts on Plett and Bitou, and to validate
    any major development, public participation must be genuine!
    Lets choose something that people actually like, and then employ
    ‘experts’ to make it work, rather than giving the ‘experts’ carte
    blanche to make decisions that they do not have to live with!.

  2. These minutes were included in the scoping report, that is openly available, so it is no secret.
    What concerns me is that the appointment of these developers is being investigated, and the proposal has ignored almost all of the principles that were agreed would be a fundamental part of the development.
    I do not know if the developers were even briefed on the fundamental principles, if they were, they have ignored them, hoping that years later, they would be forgotten. If they weren’t, then the council that appointed them failed the people of Bitou.
    I do not think that it is ethical to negotiate with them until these issues are clarified.

    • That goes to show how unwieldy the scoping report is. After all, the tourism/local businessmen who attended were unaware of the minutes and attended in a different capacity to what the developers recorded.
      I believe in transparency so with all the questions flying around that obviously hasn’t been achieved. The Council and Municipality should have a FAQ on their website so that there’s no grey areas.

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