PLANS to develop the former Umbilo/Congella Sports Club grounds into a mixed-use development has been given the go-ahead by the eThekwini Council, with only the DA abstaining from voting as its councillors raised concerns that the King Edwards residential and urban renewal precinct project now includes student accommodation.
A report tabled at council on 28 June, outlined plans for the development of a mixed-use transit orientated development consisting of a portion which will be sold for development on bonded housing, and another portion to be leased for the purpose of developing social housing, student village accommodation and commercial (office and retail) development on the former Umbilo/Congella Sports Club grounds.
The report, which was initially tabled at the Economic Development and Planning Committee, stated that clearance had been received from the Human Settlements Department that the proposed development supported housing densification. The report was largely welcomed at the meeting where the need for student accommodation in that vicinity was noted.
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However, according to ward 33 councillor, Mmabatho Tembe, the Congella Sports Club grounds were rezoned in 2016 following a public participation process to mixed use development, to develop only social housing.
“This project aimed to encourage development in areas to get people closer to economic hubs and transport routes. This went to committee two weeks ago and then to Council on 28 June. The Democratic Alliance abstained because the development was supposed to only include social housing, not student accommodation,” she said.
Tembe said the proposed student accommodation precinct is currently only in study phase.
“I don’t understand how the Congella Sports Club project can now include student accommodation when it has not been approved. This went to Council before the ward councillor and Parks Department had any knowledge of it. There has been insufficient consultation with relevant stakeholders,” she said.
She said the change in the project needed to be communicated to all particularly the local community which was totally against the proposed student precinct.
“We abstained in Council however the majority party voted for it to go ahead, so this will now go out to tender,” said Tembe.
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