Umdloti Lagoon View
This is a Wakefields development project that was launched in 2006.
Regrettably, it omitted to include housing needs for lower income groups, as requested by national government in all new housing projects as part of their "Breaking New Ground" policy.
Umdloti Conservancy objected to the project on the grounds of overcrowding (see their letter below).
The project was relaunched in October 2007 with about half as many units, all freestanding. Still no plans to assist the lower income groups who live in informal settlements nearby and will no doubt provide gardening and domestic labour to the future residents in the gated community of Umdloti Lagoon View
Prof. L.B.G. Ndabandaba
MEC AGRICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
P O Box X2132
FAX 031 368 1601 5 pages
25th July 2006
Re ROD / EIA 5997
OBJECTION TO AUTHORISATION OF A PRIVATE RESIDENTIAL ESTATE AND REZONED AGRICULTURAL LAND ON 'UMDLOTI LAGOON FARM' ON PORTION(S) OF FARM COTTONLANDS 1575
Further to the Record of Decision dated 27th June 2006 issued by the Department of Agriculture Environmental Affairs authorising the above development we comment as follows. The development proposes:
+/- 600 dwelling units
1500 – 2000 people (doubling the adjacent La Mercy township population)
+/- 1000 motor cars
Under these circumstances we have no alternative but to record our concerns and objection to the mass 'over development' of this hillside overlooking the Mdloti Estuary and Lagoon as proposed on a very sensitive and prominent tourist route northwards from Durban City.
PUBLIC ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN & BACKGROUND TO OBJECTION.
We place on record our objection to the above authorisation
Mdloti estuary and lagoon habitat is a unique coastal area where higher density impact zoning associated with the proposed development will further undermine the areas tourism appeal and northern tourist route leading to additional environmental degradation of the coastal area contributing to the further deterioration of estuarine and lagoon habitat vegetation and beach.
We note that in another coastal development application, Council Report confirms that development in the area should align with the City’s strategic objectives and that the Development Planning and Management Department does not support this development which it considers is premature.
Public PROTECTION OF THE NATURAL COAST & ESTUARINE ENVIRONMENT
At the public meeting held at La Mercy 2003, the public demanded the total removal of structures from the Mdloti Estuary / Lagoon and the area returned to its original natural state. The public regard the natural surroundings of the Mdloti estuary, lagoon and coast at La Mercy and Umdloti as the most valuable natural asset left in the area.
PUBLIC ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT
Partnerships between North Local Entity, other officials of eThekwini Municipality and Umdloti Conservancy have been involved with revitalising La Mercy and Umdloti’s natural environment through the removal of man made structures and natural rehabilitation and maintenance of Barringtonia fresh water mangroves, dunes etc. This commitment is in line with Durban Metro’s Coastal Tourism Development Plan (1999) which recognised the Mdloti catchment area (area surrounding and including the Mdloti Lagoon) as one of the main eco-tourist destinations within the Municipality.
COUNCILS ENVIRONMENTAL VALUE
In recognition of the area’s environmental ‘value’, the Municipality has confirmed through the IDP and previous projects Planning, Design and management Guidelines – Umdloti to Tongaat (2000) and the Coastal Tourism Development Plan (1999), that the area approaching the lagoon from Umdloti Village and La Mercy retain their natural environmental value which provides a very important visual amenity to the area and that ‘.…..to enhance the village environmental quality and character, high impact development towards the Mdloti Lagoon must be controlled……’ (restricted to single dwelling residential units or NO development due to rare scenic beauty associated with the estuary, lagoon, dune forest and steep dune topography).
Camps Bay area of Cape Town is a good example of Council retaining resident scale in all new building (based on the old fishing cottages and holiday homes) which co incidentally has created some of the highest value land and property in South Africa.
More remote beaches south of Umdloti, towards the Mlanga Forest and Peace Cottage areas and northwards to the Mdloti estuary /lagoon, already host a growing number of international eco-tourists and is fast becoming the centre for this activity, the fastest growing industry in the world. Through organisations such as Drifters, the largest eco tourist operator in Africa with an international network promoting Africa's natural wonderland environment, are well established in Umdloti’s North Beach Road. Clearly this tourist product relies heavily on protecting what little remains of both the ‘African’ natural bush, estuarine, wetland, lagoon and beach environment which together is becoming an extremely rare commodity.
By retaining single special residential zoning and low density development, infrastructure and maintenance costs are reduced by retaining a naturally smaller scale and more sustainable service to these more remote areas of La Mercy and Umdloti. The above development proposal is considered to be to much of a burden on service requirement in the area bearing in mind that it is outside eThekwini's established 'urban edge'.
D144 ACCESS ROAD THROUGH THE MDLOTI RIVER FLOOD PLAIN
Attention has been given to the drainage catchments, wetland areas and D144 road within the above developments site boundary in supporting documentation. However there appears to be no comment on the D144 only access road approach outside the development. This road passes through +/- 1 kilometre of the Mdloti floodplain which is periodically under water in heavy rain conditions (see photograph below).
Except for traffic flow information there appears to be no reference to this roads flooding condition by the Department of Transport in the documentation.
This issue was brought to the Developers / SiVest attention at every public meeting since May 2005 and it would appear that the DAEA who ultimately issued the above ROD have not been informed of the problem.
Above: picture taken February 2006 after heavy rains shows the D144 approach 'farm' road running from
the turning circle (at bottom) to the developer’s site (at top) under water
1:100 FLOOD PLAIN
Ethekwini's web site picture above shows 1:100 flood plain demarcation and guide to property insurance liability showing the whole of the above D144 access road for the development under water from the M4 to the proposed development boundary.
We hereby support consultant recommendation that the section of the D144 road from the M4 to this development's site boundary through the Mdloti flood plain is removed. All future access to the farms etc in this area should be by the road which currently exists around the perimeter of this flood plain which would need to be realigned and upgraded.
We highlight the fact that if the development proceeds as proposed, the public and Local Authority will be concerned about being forced to pay for a new access road to this private estate. There is more concern that this road in the Mdloti floodplain is a similar condition to the La Mercy Development which the public / City were committed to pay R7million to rectify.
The public should not be forced into pouring millions of rand into structural development in the Mdloti estuary / lagoon flood plain again.
SURFACE WATER DISCHARGE
Due to the high concentration of development sites and the areas altered state from cane to non water absorption it is considered the overground 'herringbone' drainage system is not sufficient in such sensitive and unstable ground conditions.
Your attention is drawn to the fact that developments in Umdloti and la Mercy have had serious problems relating to storm water run off from undermining of buildings to access roads being washed away resulting in high remedial engineering and other legal cost to the ratepayers and Local Authority. In view of the reported unstable soil conditions prevailing over the site all water borne servicing including both sewage and surface water should be by a full piped system as recommended by Dr Tim Francis in his engineering report.
It is concerning to note that with the adjustments to Genazzano works the sewerage capacity of this private estate development will take up spare capacity allocated for development of existing La Mercy undeveloped sites. This appears to exacerbate the problem of 'urban sprawl' and places a future unnecessary financial burden on the planning authority and rate payers.
SITE CONDITION AND BUILDING FOOTPRINT
In view of the reported unstable soil conditions prevailing over the site, any level building platform should be in the form of cut with no retaining element being steeper than the natural angle of repose. In order to retain a more calming aesthetic 'sense of place' and limit afternoon shading any retaining wall structure steeper than the angle of repose should not be vertically more than 1 metre high. This is a reduction to the 2 metres mentioned in supporting documentation.
HEIGHT & DENSITY
In order to alleviate the building congestion and visual domination of the accumulative building mass on the hilltops overlooking the sensitive Mdloti estuary and lagoon and tourist route, it is recommended that existing sites support single dwellings and not semi detached 'duets' as proposed. This would instantly halve the amount of units and visual impact of the overall development and reduce the servicing requirement.
The proposed double storey height limitation of the dwellings of 6 metres should be measured from natural ground formation and NOT be elevated on legs/columns which would create an alien 'floating structure' hovering over the ground. This would settle, integrate and relax the structure into being part of the surrounding topography.
In view of the many public meetings raising this point since May 2005 we are concerned that SiVest have not brought the attention of the flooding of the D144 access road outside the development boundary through the Mdloti floodplain (the only development access) to any of the consultants attention for inclusion in their reports. It is also apparent that this issue has not been raised with DAEA who have issued an ROD.
In view of other consultants recommendation for the D144 road to be removed from the Mdloti floodplain access/integration with La Mercy township must be be considered now as part of the planning process.
A W Holland
cc B Widdowson eThekwini
FAX 031 311 7279