Residents unhappy about proposed shopping centre

An artist's impression shopping centre, presented to the public in 2014.

Some Modderfontein residents have expressed their concerns regarding the proposed Lakeside shopping centre that was proposed for the area.

Mr Damian Testa, the managing director for The Nevada Group, said the site preparation and marking will begin during February 2016, however no date has been set yet as to when the construction will start.

“Once construction begins, it is expected to last anywhere up to 24 months,” said Mr Testa.

Some residents claim that the centre management has not been up-front about their intentions and they feel that proper consultation has been lacking from the centre management’s side.

“I am extremely mindful that the shopping centre is inevitable. I would like all the residents and Nevada to work together and plead that what is built doesn’t damage Modderfontein’s precious soul, nor take away the reason why all of us fell in love with this place,” said Ms Valerie van der Klis, a Modderfontein resident.

Ms van der Klis said some of the concerns they have as residents include traffic congestion.

“Our traffic congestion may no longer remain at the valley road circle but may impact us right at our entrance. The morning traffic in our area is awful because if the main traffic light is for any reason out, it takes too long for one to get out of Modderfontein. We cannot afford to have similar congestion to Fairways,” said Ms van der Klis.

She said the development of a new road past St Francis doesn’t make any sense and that will have an impact on the church itself.

“I can’t understand how a traffic impact study would recommend traffic lights; most of Greenstone operates with roundabouts – surely that will work for Modderfontein? Traffic lights are not the best road management system as they have many failure points.

“The road that is being planned on the other side of the dam may take a lot of traffic away from Johannesburg road. My understanding is that one doesn’t really understand the traffic impact until this road is implemented and if one is concerned about trucks into the area, there is another road that is built to withstand that traffic that goes past the golf course. Perhaps the current roundabout’s size must be increased to accommodate traffic,” said Ms van der Klis.

She said residents are also concerned about the size of the shopping centre building and the possible noise that could come with having a shopping centre in the area.

“What will I see from my home, hopefully trees and not an over-sized building. Most of us were attracted to Lakeside because it was single storey buildings,” she said.

Ward 32 councillor, Clr Bongani Nkomo, said he received numerous complaints regarding the construction from residents.

“There has been no communication regarding the proposed construction and there has been a general dissatisfaction from residents regarding the proposed design of the shopping centre.

“Besides that, there has been no real or genuine public participation and no communication or engagement with the councillor in my personal capacity,” said Clr Nkomo. He urged community members to contact him on 073 552 0680 with any concerns they might have.

Mr Testa said the company is a family-owned and run company with community and family values at the core of all their developments.

“The first draft design plan was revealed to the Modderfontein community at the 2014 Annual Christmas Market, which was attended by hundreds of families.

Comments received from this market, together with comments from the public via email during 2015, were taken into account in revisions to the first draft design plan. Site plans are currently still in the review phase,” said Mr Testa.

He said some changes to the draft design have been made and the design structure has been reduced by approximately 30 percent in overall size, yet will retain its proportions.

The management said a traffic study was also conducted by highly trained traffic engineers, which are approved by the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), to reduce congestion.

“It is a standard council requirement to conduct a traffic study for a commercial development. The submitted traffic study was approved by the JRA. The study showed that due to the current traffic circles, all traffic passing through one lane currently creates a bottleneck situation and improvements were prescribed,” said Mr Testa.

The following improvements to improve current and future traffic flow were prescribed by JRA:

  •  Roads surrounding the shopping centre must be widened with robots installed.
  •  The road width and type of traffic intersection required is dictated by JRA.
  •  Dedicated lanes are to be created for drivers who turn left; continue straight or make right turns.
  • On whether there will be enough clientele to support the businesses at this new shopping centre; Mr Testa said all improvements were designed to handle the projected long term traffic growth surrounding the centre.

“We are actively monitoring the residential and business growth within Modderfontein. Taking into account all growth factors, we estimate that retail demand in Modderfontein will exceed current supply in late 2017.

“The success of the development is directly affected by the rate of general housing and office growth, interest rates, future Eskom supply capacity, and critically – the future growth plans of Zendai, Heartland and other residential developers. Zendai has projected that 5 300 new homes will be required over the next five years within Modderfontein. Their first residential offering within Modderfontein, is currently under development where 150 units will be occupied in early 2017,” said Mr Testa.

He said the increased residential demand alone from the planned new homes will sustain a local convenience shopping centre within Modderfontein.

With regards to the noise, Mr Testa said the tenant mix will be comprised of upmarket restaurants which will run within appropriate operating times.

They said generators will be enclosed in a sound-attenuated container with a 70 decibel reading at seven metres, which is within acceptable noise levels and the additional trees, shrubs and plants will be landscaped to assist in absorbing sounds.

He said an assessment to determine the health of the trees in the area was conducted by an independent tree consultant to identify which are healthy and which are at risk of falling.

The trees were identified as alien pine trees and are therefore not ecologically suitable for the area.

The portion of healthy trees will be responsibly removed and recycled.

Mr Testa said the funds raised from the recycled trees will be used to purchase new local indigenous trees for the area.

“Nevada has undertaken to replace all the trees removed on a one-for-one basis. The trees within the Go-Ape Activity park, although they are alien pine trees, will remain in place for the long-term and will continue to offer a barrier to noise and air pollution. Over 200 new trees will be planted on the surrounding site which will complement the environment.

“Nevada endeavours to leave a greener environmental footprint once its development is completed. All staff working on the Lakeside site will be vetted. Security within the construction site will provide safety and security for the site, and its surroundings. As there are a number of other building projects within the area, we can only do our best to ensure that our own staff and contractors adhere to the highest levels of quality and integrity,” said Mr Testa.

  AUTHOR
Buli Sonqishe

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