Rugby fans throughout South Africa see the Newlands stadium as the birthplace and current home of rugby. How then will they react to any proposal that it should be declared obsolete and rezoned for residential cum mixed-use development — with the Green Point stadium now becoming the accepted venue for all major rugby matches at the Cape?
"The whole idea is almost sacrilegious to ardent rugby fans," says Paul Henry, managing director of Rawson Developers, who to date have developed and built some 3500 housing units in the greater Cape Town area. "Nevertheless," he says, "this massive change in the Cape way of life is a very definite possibility in the not too distant future because the Cape Town City Council have to find some way of ensuring that a better return is achieved on their investment in the Green Point stadium and because the Newlands stadium, in the heart of the suburban area, is zoned for densification, a policy to which the City Council is committed. It has easy, quick access to traffic and rail corridors and is at the moment mainly occupied by freestanding one and two storey homes."
Any proposal to rezone and develop the stadium, said Henry, will have to involve one of the most intensive environmental and impact assessments ever undertaken at the Cape — carried out in terms of the Council’s Integrated Zoning Scheme.
The initial investigations, said Henry, will have to answer certain questions which the public are bound to raise.
- If the rezoning is to be a densification process, just how far is this likely to be carried? Will it involve, as seems likely, the building of high rise blocks and, if so, what height?
- How much of the site will be set aside for landscaped areas and, if a mixed-use zoning is approved, just how many retail, office and communal facilities will be incorporated into the scheme?
- Would a mixed-use proposal include a low-cost housing component and, if so, how will the Council ensure that this does not lower the values of other property or detract from their aesthetic appeal?
- Is there any chance that this site would be subject to a land claim in terms of the Restitution of Land Act?
"Many Coloured families," said Henry, "were moved to the Cape Flats during the sixties and the City Council has had great difficulty in finding a suitable piece of land large enough for resettlement — which many of those who were expropriated would prefer to a compensation payout. A problem with such claims, as we have seen at the Claremont bowling green, is that they can take years to settle, during which time the site remains vacant and unused."
Article continues on page two: A conservative estimate has given the site a R120-million price tag but it could be well over R200-million…