The Steinhoff plantations are now managed by PG Bison, a subsidiary of Steinhoff Ltd. PG Bison purchased the forestry interests and land owned by PJ van Rheenen. PG Bison intend closing the pole-yard in Rheenendal. This will lead to further unemployment in the area. In response to this, PG Bison employed Dr. Mulder to investigate the development of an industrial area as well as a residential development of some 500 houses catering for higher and middle-income earners and possibly some low income housing.
As the current SDF does not allow this, the Knysna municipality appointed the development team, headed by CMAI, to develop a structure plan for Rheenendal. The Municipality is contributing R80,000 to the project and the landowner, PG Bison is paying the balance. We have been unable to establish how much PG Bison is paying as Knysna Municipality has failed and/or refused to provide us with this information. From informed sources, we have established that PG Bison will be contributing 90% of the consultants’ fees, being approximately R800,000.
We have requested information from the municipality as to why this process is conducted concurrently with the ISDF process and how the two processes are going to be aligned, but have received no response.
Ms. Campbell attended a meeting chaired by Dr. Mulder with farmers and conservancy members in connection with the structure plan process. During the meeting, Dr Mulder spoke about his agri-villages and mentioned Kurland and Flaminkvei in the Western Cape as well as Crossways in the Eastern Cape. He indicated that development approval in the Eastern Cape was obtained speedily whereas he was having endless problems to obtain approvals from the Western Cape Provincial Government. The reason for this is because the WC Provincial Government has adopted various policies to protect the countryside and ecologically sensitive areas from developments such as those in which Dr. Mulder specialises. Dr. Mulder, on the other hand, tries to circumvent these policies by describing the gated estates, with some agricultural component, as “rural development”.
One can only wonder why the municipality appointed CMAI in the structure plan process and have awarded the tender to the same company for the ISDF, well knowing that this could lead to conflict with the provincial government at the end of the process.
After the meeting conducted by Dr. Mulder, many parties who attended did not feel that their input was being taken seriously and could not understand why a property developer was running the process. This does not bode well for the greater ISDF process.
The entire structure plan appointment is contrary to planning law principles. How PG Bison, the landowner, can be allowed to pay a consultant of its choice, Dr. Mulder, to develop planning policies for a municipality is beyond comprehension and flies in the face of all principles of good governance.
In terms of the triangle described by Jeannie van Wyk (”.. a triangle with the state at one angle, land owners or holders of rights in land at a second angle and third parties, in the form of neighbours and objectors or interested and affected parties, at the third angle.”), the state and landowner are now on the same side which destroys the balance of the process and leaves stakeholders confused and dis-empowered.
Click here to read:
- Environmental Groups Object 1: ISDF Tender Award & Chris Mulder
- Environmental Groups Object 2: CMAI & Chris Mulder’s Plans
- Environmental Groups Object 3: PG Bison/500 Houses for Rheenendal?
- Environmental Groups Object 4: PG Bison Bullies Environmentalists?
- Environmental Groups Object 5: Mike Maughan-Brown
- Environmental Groups Object 6: Conflicts of Interest
- Environmental Groups Object 7: Conclusion