MP’s no to vlei mall

Southern Mail
May 9th, 2012

A DA Member of Parliament, Denis Joseph, has added his weight to the swell of objections against plans to build a shopping mall at Princess Vlei.

A significant voice has been added to the tsunami of objections from organisations, communities and individuals against the proposed building of a shopping mall on the banks of the Princess Vlei.

Retreat resident Denis Joseph, a Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament (MP) in the National Council of Provinces and an ex-councillor, said: “As a resident I do not support the proposed development at the vlei because it is a very a sensitive environmental area that must be protected for cultural, religious and community recreation.”
“I am convinced the officials in the City will not recommend that the vlei ground be re-zoned. And as a Member of Parliament I will write to them to express the opinion of the community.”
“It is important the developer understands my role as a political and community leader, conveying a message of strong objection on behalf of the broader community. And I am prepared to invite the developer and the mayor to a site meeting where I will introduce them to the history of the vlei.”
Stressing that civics and environmental organisations, as well as other organisations, strongly object to the proposed development, Mr Joseph said: “It is clear their objections were not taken into account. The authorities underestimate the historical value of the vlei land to the people.
“The vlei should be developed into an environmental park, similar to the one in Green Point where the community, educational sectors such as schools and NGOs benefit from the environment.

‘The environment is too sensitive to allow the building of a shopping mall. And I hope, as a resident of over 21 years in that area, City officials and political leadership will strongly consider not to rezone the vlei area. The relationship between business, community and government will be damaged, possibly beyond recovery if this shopping mall is allowed,” said Mr Joseph.

He said the history of religious practices such as baptisms, as well as cultural practices, was important to the community and should not be ignored.

He expressed support for Khoisan organisations in their pursuit of protecting the vlei for historical and cultural reasons.
Acknowledging there had been incidents of crime, and even murders at the Princess Vlei in the past, Mr Joseph said that did not mean the vlei should be turned into a shopping mall.
Pointing out that Blue Route Mall had undergone a R2 billion upgrade, with Pick n Pay being further south on Prince George Drive at Capricorn Park and Kenilworth Centre not too far in the north, he said: “This shopping mall will kill small businesses, particularly your Busy Corners in Grassy Park and the Retreat Main Road business area which is already struggling to survive.
“I have a proposal, if there is a need for a business centre that (part of) the scouts’ ground on the opposite site of Prince George Drive be used to build it.
“Economic growth and job creation is important, however, my proposal to switch the site from the vlei to the scouts’ property is a practical solution to support economic growth and job creation.”


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