27 April 2008

Baakens River Valley under threat

Another of South Africa's green lungs, the Baakens River Valley in Port Elizabeth, is under threat as developers exploit a legal loophole to build high-rise buildings on the edge of the once pristine valley. Ecologists claim developers are killing off local fauna and flora, while environmentalists claim developers are illegally connecting storm-water drains to an already-overloaded sewerage system. Despite a municipal ban on buildings higher than 8,2 metres on the Walmer side of the valley, there is no current height restriction for buildings on the Central side. In March 1997, the municipality adopted the Walmer Policy Plan to ensure the protection of the Baakens River Valley by restricting the heights of buildings. This was after an outcry after the construction of The Knysna, a luxury apartment block at the end of First Avenue. Already an eight-storey block of luxury apartments, Eco Edge, is being completed behind Greenwood Primary School. Another six storey-plus block on the adjoining erf, The Birkin, already has ground cleared for development. Another 11-storey luxury development is planned for the plot at the end of Jutland Crescent.