A Report for Hilland Environmental Assessment Practitioners REMAINDER OF FARM 298, MOSSEL BAY: VURU VURU DEVELOPMENT

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1 A Report for Hilland Environmental Assessment Practitioners REMAINDER OF FARM 298, MOSSEL BAY: VURU VURU DEVELOPMENT APRIL 2014


3 NEED & DESIRABILITY REPORT FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF VURU VURU ESTATE ON FARM 298, MOSSEL BAY 1. INTRODUCTION Formaplan has been appointed by the owners of the property to address the need and desirability issues related to the proposed development Vuru Vuru on Farm 298, Mossel Bay. The report will contribute to the Environmental Impact Assessment being undertaken by Hilland Environmental Assessment Practitioners in terms of NEMA. 2. THE PROPERTY 2.1 The property under discussion is the Remainder of Farm 298, Mossel Bay. It is located between Moqiuni Beach and Nautilus Phase I. The property stretches from just south of the N2 up to the high watermark. The northern part is a relatively narrow hammerhead portion of land while the southern part stretches approximately 2.3 Kms along the beach. The property is 404 ha in size The physical characteristics of the property show that a littoral dune zone along the southern boundary is covered with generally well conserved indigenous vegetation. This area rises fairly steeply to a plateau area that has been transformed for agricultural purposes in the past and has been infested by alien invader species such as rooipitjie. On the eastern side, this plateau forms a slight depression. To the north of the plateau the land forms a slight ridge that consists of rocky outcrops on the eastern side. The thin elongated part of the property consists of a fairly prominent valley with a non perennial watercourse running through it. The area closest to the N2 is even and has also been transformed for agricultural purposes in the past. The original farmstead is located in this area. 2.3 Presently the property is zoned Agricultural Zone I but farming activities are limited to the grazing of a few head of cattle. 3. PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT The owners of the property intends to develop a residential country estate at an average density of 4 units per ha i.r.o. the whole property. Due to limiting physical features, mainly sensitive vegetation, steep slopes and vegetated sand dunes, it is proposed to do the development in 5 nodes indicated as Areas 1 to 5 on the attached Plan No. Vuru 1/1.3 dated June Areas 1 to 4 will be developed as residential areas of differing erf sizes, apartments, group housing and 2

4 accompanying tourist facilities (restaurants, curio shops), shops, hotel etc. Area 5 will be developed mainly as an equestrian centre and a 12 room guesthouse. On the plan is also indicated the approximate positions of 4 bush camps in the area where Mosaic Thicket fynbos vegetation exists. This area is however also severely infested with alien vegetation. The owners are already in the process of clearing this area of all alien vegetation. It is expected that in this area suitable space could exist after alien clearing has been done, where a few bush camps could be accommodated without interfering with the indigenous vegetation. The bush camps would accommodate 4 to 6 small units depending on the size of the available space. The application will initially only consist of rezoning to subdivisional area. Subdivision of the nodes will follow later and will be done in accordance with market trends at the time of the development. If the market calls for smaller erven, then the owners will provide in that demand. The density applied for in the rezoning to subdivisional area will however not exceed an average of 4 units per ha for the entire property. The densities in the 4 individual development nodes may however vary and could reach up to 25 units per ha. A very important feature of the development proposal is that development will consist of four compact relatively high density nodes situated within vast areas to be conserved as open spaces that will lead to a unique character and sense of place high density development within large open spaces. Due to the size of the development (1600 units) and the present economic situation world wide, the owners intend to develop the property in phases, most likely in accordance with the developable areas 1 to 5 as indicated on the plan. The development will be dependent on the demand for properties in the area and the total development could take as long as 10 years and beyond to be fully completed. 4. NEED AND DESIRABILITY The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning of the Western Cape Provincial Government, issued a document Guideline On Need and Desirability dated October According to these Guidelines need and desirability relates to the type of development proposed and the concept of need and desirability can be explained in terms of the general meaning of its two components in which need refers to time and desirability to place in other words, is it the right time and is it the right place for locating the type of land use or activity being proposed. To assist in assessing the need and desirability of a development, the guide lines listed 14 questions to be answered in detail. The questions are answered as follows: 3

5 NEED (TIMING) 4.1 Is the land use (associated with the activity being applied for) considered within the timeframe intended by the existing approved SDF agreed to by the relevant environmental authority? (i.e. is the proposed development in line with the projects and programmes identified as priorities within the credible IDP) Mossel Bay Municipality has already adopted an IDP for its municipal area some years ago. The IDP addresses many policies, strategies, objectives and spatial challenges. Most of the policy guidelines and objectives refer to general issues such as offering basic services to all communities, create environment for economic growth in tourism industry, develop sport and recreational facilities, facilitate economic development and investor friendly environment, access to affordable and quality housing to all residents and provision of public transport. In the document certain realities are acknowledged such as the fact that the Mossel Bay is the holiday Mecca of the Garden Route with good tourism potential and development opportunities and a good infrastructure exists in the town. Concern is expressed that there is a lack of available land for Integrated Human Settlements and public transport has limited options. It is important to note that the Municipality has to prepare and adopt a municipal Spatial Development Framework (SDF) as a sector plan which forms part of the IDP. The Municipality had already prepared and adopted such a SDF. The SDF acknowledges that the objectives, policies and challenges that are addressed in the IDP, are also addressed in the SDF. After the approval of the SDF, application was made to the Municipality to include the subject property inside the Urban Edge of the Municipality. Only recently, December 2012, the Municipality resolved that the subject property could be included into the Urban Edge to enable the developers to engage in various investigations for a sustainable urban development on the property. The Municipality did not place any restrictions in respect of the timeframe of a proposed development. It can therefore be accepted that the Municipality accepted at the time that the proposed development of the property will be within the timeframe intended by the SDF and IDP well knowing also that physical development on the property will only take place in a number of years from the date of their resolution. In the event that the proposed development obtains all the relevant authorizations, it is likely to develop over a period of 10 to 15 years. The proposed development will take place in 4 or 5 phases and it could be expected that the last phase only reach completion by the year 2025/2030 or beyond. It is assumed that this timeframe also addresses future needs not necessarily considered in the current SDF planning. In this respect it should also be noted that a study was undertake on the Growth Potential of Towns in the Western Cape. The study found that Mossel Bay has a very high development potential. This finding encourages developers and investors to develop in Mossel Bay and in principle the proposed development can be seen as giving expression to the findings of this study. 4

6 It can therefore be accepted that the proposed development on the property will contribute in general to the objectives and principles of the IDP with specific reference to provision of housing for all groups of people, job creation and improvement of service delivery. 4.2 Should development, or if applicable, expansion of the town/area concerned in terms of this land use (associated with the activity being applied for) occur here at this point in time? The proposed development borders an existing development on its eastern side (Moquini) and also on its western side (Nautilus). Moq uini development which borders onto Dana Bay, is inside the urban edge while Nautilus is outside the urban edge. As such this proposed development is seen as an expansion of the urban development of Mossel Bay. As already mentioned before, the Municipality resolved that the property could be included inside the urban edge of the municipality and thereby acknowledged that the municipal urban structure could be extended into a westerly direction. Although the resolution by Council is only dated December 2012, Council already declared its willingness to include the property inside the urban edge many years ago. At present the property is undeveloped and is not even being used extensively for farming purposes. A neighbouring farmer use the property as grazing for a few cattle. Approximately 10 cows were observed on the property recently. The property is approximately 400 ha in size of which approximately 340 ha consists of conservation worthy sensitive vegetation species of various kinds, steep slopes and a sensitive dune area. Development will take place in area where farming activities took place in the past. The farming activities ceased many years ago mainly due to the scarcity of available irrigation water in this area. Agricultural potential areas were mapped and it was found that only a small percentage of the land was of high agricultural potential. The total size of this high potential agricultural land is however not sufficient to be used as a successful farming entity and the available high potential land on the property is furthermore scattered and not consolidated into a single area. The conservation worthy vegetation on the property is currently invested with alien vegetation although the owners are doing their best to eradicate these invaders at a huge cost to them. The success of this effort is dependent on the outcome of this application as it will not be possible for the owners to carry on with this action if no income can be generated from this property. Should the proposed development whereby the sensitive areas could be declared as conservation areas, be approved, a substantial area (±340 ha) of land could be introduced into a formal conservation estate of this region which could be an asset for this area and Mossel Bay as a whole. This action is praiseworthy and the sooner conservation worthy land such as this is protected, the better. It could therefore be argued that a development should occur here on this land which is inside the urban edge and it could happen at this point in time. This point in time will however only realize in 5 to 10 years from now. 5

7 4.3 Does the community/area need the activity and the associated land use concerned (is it a societal priority?) It was already mentioned that the subject property is bordered by Moquini and Danabay to the east and Nautilus to the west. These developments were approved and developed many years ago and the type of housing was mainly targeted at the high income economic sector of the community and certainly not the low income group. The proposed development will be structured in such a manner that provision will be made for all income groups. The developer has to date not developed a detailed development plan for the area. However, the intention is to develop the development nodes into housing units to accommodate the whole range of income groups. Hereby not only the high income groups but also the low income groups will be able to obtain ownership of a property in this development which will be of a very unique nature high density clustered development located within large undeveloped natural surroundings compared to low to medium density development with limited open spaces available (traditional developments). This proposed development is considered appropriate for this property. 4.4 Are the necessary services with adequate capacity currently available (at the t ime of application), or must additional capacity be created to cater for the development? Electricity Water According to the electrical reticulation report that forms part of the assessment, sufficient capacity to supply electricity to the proposed development, is available subject to certain conditions such as the building of a substation for the last phases of the development that will only take place in 10 to 15 years time. According to the consulting engineers, capacity is adequate to development currently. provide water to this Sewerage Currently sewerage cannot be provided to this development. treatment plant at Pinnacle Point needs to be undertaken. Upgrading of the sewerage Refuse Removal Adequate capacity is available to render this service to the development. 6

8 4.5 Is the development provided for in the infrastructure planning of the municipality, and if not what will the implication be on the infrastructure planning of the municipality (priority and placement of services and opportunity costs)? Electricity According to the report of the electrical engineers, the necessary negotiations with the municipality were initiated in 2007 already and as such, the infra structure planning i.r.o. electricity is provided for Water, Sewerage and Refuse Removal According to the consulting engineers, the municipality is well aware of the proposed development and it is provided for in their infrastructure planning. 4.6 Is the project part of a national programme to address an issue of national concern or importance? No. The development is a private initiative that will however provide social contributions in the form of a variety of housing types, finance, job creation and long term conservation of an environmentally sensitive area through facilitation of home owners association or trust. DESIRABILITY (PLACING) 4.7 Is the development the best practicable environmental option for this land/site? This property was assessed through investigating the various biodiversity mapping tools and different maps were compiled to demarcate and indicate areas within which development should be avoided. These areas include areas where threatened and sensitive vegetation occur as well as steep slopes (especially a long the Blinde River) and dune areas. Furthermore agricultural potential areas were mapped and it was found that only a small percentage of the property was of high agricultural potential. The mapping also indicated a ridge line that would be visible from the N2 and which should be avoided. An overlay of all the various features informed the determination of the areas potentially suited to development and those not suited due to biodiversity, visual and physical features and their sensitivity. In the light of the forgoing investigation an urban development of the property, is considered to be the best practicable environmental option subject to implementation of mitigation measures and the environmental management programme which will result in the potential positive impacts outweighing the potential negative impacts thereof. 7

9 The agriculture potential mapping for the property, confirmed that less than 10% of the total property contains high value agricultural land. Continuation of the No-Go (agriculture) option is not considered viable due to numerous constraints amongst other the low agricultural potential, weakening economic conditions, lack of sufficient water for farming and the degradation of the property through alien invasion. 4.8 Would the approval of this application compromise the integrity of the existing approved and credible municipal IDP and SDF as agreed by the relevant authorities? The proposal to develop the property as a residential (and associated land uses) area, will not compromise the SDF (and IDP ). The property is inside the urban edge as determined by the Municipality. According to the study on the Growth Potential of Towns in the Western Cape Mossel Bay has a high growth potential and this development will therefore contribute to the growth of the town. The proposed development will border the existing Moquini development on its eastern side and Nautilus on its western side. The proposed development will however not impact negatively on these existing developments. The proposal is to develop the disturbed areas on the property only and these areas are quite distant from the existing developments. 4.9 Would the approval of this application compromise the integrity of the existing environmental management priorities for the area (e.g. as defined in the EMFs), and if so, can it be justified in terms of sustainable considerations? There is no EMF in place for this area. The proposed development of areas as proposed in this application, has been restricted to areas informed by the environmental feasibility screening. Care has been taken to avoid impacting on sensitive and heritage features. Although no EMF is in place for this area, the various specialists informed this process to ensure that the development is confined to the disturbed areas only and that sensitive areas could be conserved. As the process continues, any further areas of concern that may be pointed out, would be investigated and dealt with appropriately Do locational factors favour this land use (associated with the activity applied for) at this place? (relates to the contextualisation of the proposed land use on this site within its broader context). The proposed development borders onto an existing development (Moquini) and although the two developments are separated by a deep kloof (Blinde River), it must be seen as an expansion of the existing urban development in this part of Mossel Bay. The proposed development cannot be seen as leap-frogging as there is no land between Moquini and this land that could possibly be developed. The overall density of Moquini is very low compared to other township developments but this low density is the product of a similar environmental process as is 8

10 currently being undertaken for this property. In the case of Moquini only small pockets of land was identified where development could take place without damage to the sensitive vegetation on that property. Although large areas in Moquini are undeveloped, these area cannot be developed for obvious reasons and this development area must therefore be seen as developed to its capacity and any further development must be carried out on adjacent land. It could be argued that further development in this part of the Greater Municipal Area, should take place inland from Moquini and Danabay. This land (inland) is however excluded from the Urban Edge of the municipality and can therefore not be considered for development purposes. This area is situated between Moquini / Danabay and the N2 to Cape Town. These properties are to date actively being farmed and cannot be seen in the same light as the properties seaward (south) thereof. These properties are situated on northern sloping land with different micro climatic conditions than the south sloping properties (Danabay/Moquini as well as the proposed development property. The north sloping properties are better suited for agricultural purposes which is inter alia the reason why these properties are still being farmed to date as against the south facing properties. The subject property could be seen as unwanted ribbon development (along the coast line). As explained in the previous paragraph, the properties inland from the existing developments are actively being farmed at present. Development in a westernly direction is therefore preferable to development inland. The subject property is not actively farmed and has low agricultural potential as against the other properties inland from the existing developments. It would be unwise to force development onto properties that are actively being farmed just for the sake of not permitting developments that could cause ribbon development. The term ribbon development is usually used in the context of development along an activity route or in this case development along the coast. The subject property is situated along the coast but the development of the property will not constitute the traditional ribbon development. It is clearly shown on the proposed development plan (bubble diagram) that the proposed development will take place in nodes (disturbed land) and these development nodes are situated away from the actual coast line as against developments such as Dana Bay, Vleesbay, Hartenbos. The development of the property will take place away from the coast with the nearest development area approximately 600m from the coast. The development will not even be visible from the beach. The development cannot be seen as ribbon development as traditionally envisaged in the past due to the consideration as set out above How will the activity or the land use associated with the activity applied for, impact on sensitive natural and cultural areas (built and rural/natural environment)? The majority of the property (±85%) consist of conservation worthy vegetation including steep slopes and dune areas. These areas were identified by specialists in their field. In the proposed bubble diagram plan, all these areas were avoided and will be left untouched by the proposed development. Development will only take place in areas where disturbance of the property has already take place. 9

11 The only buildings on the property is situated in the far south-western corner of the property where the original farm house buildings exist for many years already. These buildings will not be affected by the proposed development except that certain maintenance could be necessary to these buildings. Potential heritage sites have already been identified along the entire coast between Dana Bay and Vlees Bay. This potential sensitive area will not be impacted upon due to the fact that all proposed development on the property, will take place away from the coast line How will the development impact on people s health and wellbeing (e.g. in terms of noise, odours, visual character and sense of place, etc.)? The proposed development nodes is located far enough from existing developments not to result in noise impacts on these developments. Should any noise be generated on by the proposed development, such noise will be of a temporary nature which will be due to the construction of infra structure on the property. The development proposed is an normal urban area and no odours will originate that will impact on people s wellbeing or health. The property will not be visible from the N2 (George/Cape Town tourist route). On the northern side of the property is a slight ridge stretching in a west-east direction the same as the N2. The proposed development of the property will take place on the southern side of the ridge and will therefore be out of view as seen from the N2. The proposed development will be visible from adjacent developments and cannot be hidden from these developments. It is, however, the developers intention to limit the height of buildings to 2 storeys. Only a few buildings will be permitted to 3 storeys where circumstances necessitate such 3 storeys building e.g. hotel or block of apartments. As mentioned these will be limited to a minimum. Furthermore the developers intend to appoint visual and architectural specialists to advise on guidelines to minimise potential visual impacts and sense of place elements. In this regard it should again be noted that the proposed development will be done in 5 development nodes and not one continuous extensive development which will enhance the sense of place principle Will the proposed activity or the land use associated with the activity applied for, result in unacceptable opportunity costs. Due to the small percentage of high potential agricultural land available on the property linked with the fact that the high potential agriculture land is scattered across the property and the scarcity of water for farming purposes, successful farming of the property has a very low chance of success. As mentioned before the only farming activity that took place on the property for the last approximately 10 to 20 years, was a neighbouring farmer who used the property for 10

12 occasional grazing of a few head of cattle. Such low key farming activity produces nearly no economic value to the community. On the other hand, should the property be developed as proposed here, the development will create many temporary job opportunities during construction phase, which will last for many years, as well as permanent job opportunities in the form of maintenance personal, shopkeepers, hotel personal, domestic workers to name but a few. The development would also generate financial benefits to the Municipality and the community in general Will the proposed land use result in unacceptable cumulative impacts? In the paragraphs above, the possible areas of concern i.r.o. this question have already been addressed to a great extent. The possible areas of concern can be: a) loss of valuable agricultural land b) pressure on the availability of municipal services infrastructure c) urban sprawl d) destruction of scares and valuable natural areas e) overcrowding of beach and facilities. a) It was already mentioned above that mapping of the agriculture potential areas indicated that only a very limited percentage of the property has any high potential value. These areas are scattered across the property which makes successful farming almost impossible. If the opposite was true, namely that a large percentage of the property could be farmed successfully, approval of the application without taking such a fact into consideration, would have led to the cumulative unacceptable loss of valuable agricultural land. This is however not the case in this application and the loss of low potential agricultural land could not result in unacceptable cumulative impact. b) It was mentioned before in this report that the necessary services can be provided for this development by the municipality, subject to upgrading of e.g. the sewerage treatment works and the provision of a substation for the last phases of the proposed development. The Municipality is constantly in the process of upgrading its bulk services not only for this development but also for other developments that take place elsewhere in the municipal area. The development as proposed here will not result in unacceptable impact on the municipality s services infrastructure. c) The municipality decided to include this property inside the Urban Edge for Mossel Bay. The Municipality carefully considered such application and realise that expansion of the town in a westerly direction is inevitable. Almost all available land in and around Dana Bay and Moquini has already been fully developed except for limited densification possibilities in Dana Bay. Expansion of the urban edge in a northerly direction will not be wise in that the 11

13 land between the existing developments and the N2 consist mainly of agricultural land as already mentioned earlier in this report. d) A large percentage of the property consists of natural vegetation, steep slopes and dune areas. It is the approach of this application to totally avoid developing any of the said areas and in stead declare these areas as conservation areas. Development of this property as proposed will rather benefit scares and sensitive natural areas through conservation thereof than to destroy it. e) The developer intends to make access to the beach available by means of limited access points along the existing low order access road that runs parallel to the beach. Walking distance from these access points are still considerable and will lead to limited numbers of people making use of this facility. Not every person living in this estate will visit the beach every day due to the effort it takes to get there. 5. CONCLUSION The manner in which the proposed Vuru Vuru development is investigated and planned, answers to the challenges of need and desirability as required by the Department in terms of the NEMA process. It must be borne in mind that the process of scoping, investigations and planning has only being initiated recently and in the process followed now, issues of concern may arise that would need further investigation. It should also be noted that Mossel Bay was found to be a town with a high growth potential. The property under discussion has a low agriculture potential and is situated inside the Urban Edge of Mossel Bay and approval of an application to develop the property as a residential urban area as proposed would be appropriate and the best option for the property. P C J Theron Pr. Pln 12