A new vision for Strandfontein

Mitchell’s Plain Fishing Forum chairwoman Bridgette Oppelt, Sonwabe Fishing co-operative interim vice-chairwoman Valerie Arendse, South African Network of Women in Transport (SANWIT) and Sonwabe Fishing and Tourism Front chairwoman Moira Krige, L&C Community Outreach Programmes founder and chairwoman Luce-Lynn Fondling and Aqua Marine and Boating Association (SAAMBA) founder and chairman Igshaan Carstens.

The development of a 19-hectare stretch of the Strandfontein coastline is long overdue, say some of those who have commented on City plans to exploit recreational, residential and commercial opportunities there.

The public had until Thursday December 14 to comment on the draft development framework proposal outlining a fresh vision for the area, one that includes building homes, shops, conference venues, hotels, recreational facilities, picnic areas and public space for markets while protecting wetlands and stabilising dunes.

The site stretches along Baden Powell Drive within the False Bay coastline, north of the tidal pool and pavilion and east of Fisherman’s Lane. The suburbs of Pelican Heights and Strandfontein are to the north of the site. The City plan proposes high-density development on the western and central parts of the site with a 50m-wide ecological corridor between Baden Powell Drive and the proposed development.

Moira Krige, chairwoman of both the Sonwabe Fishing and Tourism Front and South African Network of Women in Transport (SANWIT), said the proposal should be made a reality.

“Conference and hotel facilities should be a definite,“ she said in a written submission to the municipality on behalf of the two organisations.

Ms Krige said the development was long overdue, would promote tourism and draw people to significant events in the area.

“Recreational facilities should not only include picnic areas, walkways and terraces but a skate park, facilities for non-motorised transport activities and be accessible to disabled people and be wheelchair friendly.”

As an access road, Baden Powell Drive should be improved, and a double carriageway was needed for the influx of people and increased economic development, she said.

Furthermore, a waste-to-energy power plant should be developed to stop load shedding undoing the proposed boost in economic activity.

The forum and network would like to see the Mitchell’s Plain community benefit from the economic opportunities, said Ms Krige.

“Our fishing community – including small-scale fishing, trek netting and anglers – have already been adversely affected with regard to access to the ocean,” said Ms Krige, noting that the coastal development should not further disadvantage them.

“I also hope that the Mitchell’s Plain and surrounding areas will be the custodians and not just consumers of the Strandfontein nodal development.”

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said the City wanted to give previously disadvantaged communities better access to coastal areas with development potential.

“Still, any development should be done in a way that is sensitive to the environment and our natural assets. This part of the statutory process focuses on environmental authorisation, offering the public another opportunity to have their voices heard on this matter.”

Describing the plan, he added: “It is an exciting proposal, which capitalises on Strandfontein’s unique location, set in a vast landscape with wide-angled views of False Bay, the distant mountains and sand dunes.

“The concept development proposal re-imagines this node beyond recreation to include housing and retail, while also protecting the sensitive marine and natural environment.”