Durban’s Playground Continues to Expand

An aerial view of the Natal Command site and surrounds.

An aerial view of the Natal Command site and surrounds.

The Durban Beachfront will never be the same as 2013 sees yet more changes to the landscape of the holiday city. A local Movie producer won his court case over the Natal Command headquarters last year and the Save Vetch’s Association called a truce with developers over water front developments recently. 2013 will see Durban’s playground getting a little bigger.

A legal dispute had been underway for over 9 years over the Army’s old Natal Command site, where many a young Durban man coveted a posting during his national service. In short the city sold the land in 2003 to local movie producer Anan Singh’s Videovision Entertainment, now Rinaldo Investments, for R15million. At the time the plan was to build a film studio.  The 21 ha of land is currently valued at R400million.

The dispute with Pietermaritzburg entrepreneur Sunny Gayadin has recently been resolved. This isn’t the only legal fracas in which Gayadin has been involved of late; he is also disputing the sale of a property adjoining the Pietermaritzburg’s Liberty Midlands Mall.

An aerial view of the Natal Command site.

An aerial view of the Natal Command site.

Durban ratepayers have been up in arms for some time about the neglect of the Natal Command site and the fishiness of the transaction.  The deal was criticised as being political, rate payers claim to have lost out due to the land not being sold for its true value. In the end the Constitutional Court made a unanimous, comprehensive judgement by the full bench of the 11 judges in Singh’s favour, dismissing an appeal against a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Right from the outset, apart from a film studio, a hotel has been planned. The land is perfectly positioned.  The site is across the road from popular Sun Coast Casino and near the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The Singh’s Video Vision website reports that they would have to revisit plans for the site since some time has lapsed since the original concept. Some are speculating that an experience like Universal Walk in Universal studios or other theme park ideas could come to fruition. Singh has made it clear before how the project had the support of the city making it a viable option all along.  Tourism and entertainment will be the biggest spinoffs for the city.

Latest from Video Vision is that the development should take five to six years. At the time of the initial sale the development was reported to the press as R1.5billion. It seems no one is speculating as to how much the final cost will be.

The ratepayers association has made it clear that it has little confidence that the city could run such an operation and that it would be best if Singh just got the movie studio going, paid rates and created jobs.

There’s no doubt that a theme park would complement the current Beach Front Walk, Moses Mabhida Stadium and uShaka Marine World as well as the Sun Coast Casino.

This brings us to another dispute. The Durban Point Development Company (DPDC) an equal partnership with Malaysian based Rocpoint group and the eThikwini Municipality, the Save Vetch’s Association (SVA) and the Durban Paddle Ski Club have made a combined press statement to say they have “ceased hostilities” and have come to a compromise settlement on how the Vetch’s Beach is to be developed as part of the on-going Point Waterfront Development.

SVA and the Paddle ski Club fought the development on the basis that they believed it would shut out the community from the beach and destroy the diving reef. The compromise plan should save about 200m of the beach in question and still allow the DPDC to go ahead with its ‘super basement’ which will form part of the phase one of the development.  The new club site will have direct access to the beach, with 4×4 vehicles and trailers will be able to park on it. The public will have access to the beach and Vetch’s Pier with all the marine life remaining unaffected.  No hotel will be built alongside Vetch’s Pier. All categories of sailing craft will be able to launch, either from the beach or from a hard and sheltered slip-way. Not everyone is entirely happy but not everyone is entirely dissatisfied – such is compromise.

Developing Durban continues to be in line with the city’s claim to being South Africa’s playground. But not every development is easy to set in motion as the above investors have discovered.

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About Matthew Campaigne Scott

I'm a freelance writer and researcher. I have written for periodicals and websites, composed speeches and sermons and prepared copy for web advertisements and research papers. I can tailor my work according to your needs. I love a challenge and enjoy building work relationships.

Posted on May 31, 2013, in Durban, Property, Society and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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