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Sol sells Keeley Park

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A total of 180 temporary jobs will be created during the implementation of the project, while 80 permanent jobs will be created

SOLD: The piece of land in Dalham Road. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A PIECE of prime municipal-owned land in Dalham Road, which was originally earmarked for the development of a private hospital, has been sold by the Sol Plaatje City Council to a private developer for the construction of a student village – at almost half the original sale price.

According to the application, the proposed development, which is worth R550 million, is for student accommodation, allowing students to reside within a 2km radius from the university campus.

At a meeting in November last year, the Sol Plaatje Municipality approved the sale of the ground (erf 2715 and erf 1178) for
R9.5 million to NC Millenium Property Developers.

Five years ago the same piece of land was sold for R14 million.

According to the developer, NC Millenium Property Developers, a total of 180 temporary jobs will be created during the implementation of the project, while 80 permanent jobs will be created.

The applicant is also interested in developing 20 erven in Southridge.

The land situated in Klisserville was originally sold five years ago to the Life Health Care Group for R14 million. However, the hospital group asked that the transfer of the property be kept in abeyance and since then no feedback has been received by the municipality from the hospital group.

According to documentation presented at November’s city council meeting, Life Health Care was sent a letter on March 28 2017 requesting that the municipality be informed if the proposed development was still going ahead. “It was later found that Life Health Care was no longer interested in the proposed development and the transaction was cancelled.”

It is believed that several other applications were submitted to the municipality for the ground, including one for the development of a retirement complex.

However, this one for the student accommodation was the only one presented to council for consideration. Councillors were, however, informed that an application had been received from “Ms B Smit, on April 25 2018, indicating that Swanvest 359 had also applied for the same land”. No details of this application, or any others, were made available to councillors although they were submitted and are on the municipality’s files.

According to the municipality, a portion of the land concerned, known as Keeley Park, is currently being used as a sports field by St Patrick’s College. There is also a bowling club, tennis club and cricket club (soccer field) on the premises. The tennis club will, according to the developers, not be affected.

One of the conditions to the sale it that all new services relating to roads and stormwater would have to be designed by a consulting engineer for approval before any construction commences and any additional infrastructure needed will be the responsibility of the applicant. A traffic impact study is also required.

The electricity department has also indicated that it is not in a position to provide the required 1MVA bulk supply point and this will have to be installed by the developer at an estimated cost of R4.65 million.

The municipality’s intention to sell the ground to NC Millenium Developers for student accommodation was advertised in the DFA on February 11.

In the advertisement, it was stated that objections must be submitted in writing with full reasons to the municipality by March 4 (Monday next week).

According to the application, the development will be 75% for university students (mainly two bedrooms with four beds) and 25% for young qualified medical doctors in training and nurses with a combination of one to two bedrooms.

It will include parking on ground level underneath the building and a maximum of four floors. There will also be a retail/cafeteria combination as well as two larger commercial areas of 100 square metres each (possibly for a small gym) and two smaller commercial types of 50 square metres. There will also be a “facilities” block with a potential braai and social open areas.

“Our approach will achieve its aim to integrate growth and development by creating strong urban networks with a hierarchy of well-connected nodes which will ensure efficient flows of people, goods and information, as well as to target public infrastructure that catalyses public and private sector investment and ultimately ensure good access to jobs and amenities.”

In terms of the design logic, it is stated in the application that “residences will be developed to create individual residence cultures and this can be achieved by grouping students together in blocks of flats housing around 500 students or less per block, all dependant on final design and roll-out strategy, to align with the stakeholders’ requirements.”

In response to media enquiries, municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said yesterday that the public participation process was unfolding regarding the above-mentioned erven.

“All inputs/comments can be forwarded to the municipality for consideration. Council took a decision to sell the property and it is for the said reason that there is public participation to notify members of the public of the decision and also inputs/objections or enquiry if any.”

Several members of the public have questioned why the council sold the property instead of alienating the ground by means of a tender.

“One has to question the reason behind offering the ground for far less than the value five years ago instead of giving everyone in Kimberley an equal opportunity to bid for land that is obviously highly sought after,” one resident said yesterday.

“Also, why were councillors not made aware of the fact that other developers were also interested in the land. Only the one application for the purchase of the land was submitted to council for consideration and it appears that councillors themselves didn’t realise that the land had been sold,” he added.

It is believed that legal opinion is being sought following the council decision.