This view across the park from our home would have been lost forever
I am now delighted to report that the developers have finally got the message and have decided to move this project to another site. We have heard many rumours of this over the past month that this was going to happen and it was finally confirmed in the Herald on Friday, that "Police Call Centre to go up in Korsten instead". Needless to say that community has received no official confirmation of this.The SA Police Service and the National Department of Public Works thought they were in for an easy ride when tried to push the development through, with a minimal and flawed public participation process, somewhat remiscent of the the old apartheid regime. Their intention was to start building in January this year, so as to have the call centre completed in time for the 2010 World Cup Soccer event.
Proposed building site with the public participation notices in the foreground - after the excavations were covered
They were the only people who did not think that the siting of the call centre and the mast was ill conceived and dismissed our objections as emotive. Our objections were based on:
- Quality of life - a 24/7 operation (call centre and workshop) in a residential area will never be welcomed with open arms
- Property values - a loss of a sea view means a loss of up to 15% of the value of ones property
- Character of the neighbourhood - a hideous modern 4 storey building and a 40 metre high lattice mast will do nothing to enhance the characrer of the neighbourhood
- Impact on heritage - Richmond Hill has a lot of beautiful historical buildings and does not need another eyesore, especially between two historical monuments.
- Health concerns - there are world wide concerns about having radio masts in one's back yard
- Impact on the historical Mfengu burial ground
If it had not been for the community objections they would have proceeded with the project and obliterated the graveyard.
Since December last year the process got bogged down in a Historical Impact assessment. This eventually culminated in archeologists digging up parts of the site with a backhoe on 15 April and the unearthing a number of graves. On the same day they started another enviromental impact assessment, as they had decided to put the mast on a differest site - this unleashed another wave of protest.
Backhoe at work unearthing the graves - not a very sensitive approach
Two weeks ago Suzi-k got E-TV to do a slot on the development. Even though the new site had already been secured, one of the prime movers on the development still seemed to have a problem with the truth, by claiming that the development was going ahead regardless.
This view of the Erica Building from St Phillips Street would have been blocked by the new buildingWhat this process has highlighted is that we do not have to accept the crap fed to us by the bureaucrats. It is one of the advantages of liviving in a country with a liberal constitution - i we take a strong enough stand with well reasoned and factual arguments we can win the day.
It does oncern me though is that the public participation process was followed merely to satisfy a legal requirement, rather that to listen to the concerns of those who were directly affected by the development. What eventually tipped the scales for us was the discovery of human remains on the site - all our other concerns were previously dismissed as emotive.
The reality is that we persevered and we won the day.