The Stellenbosch municipality has confirmed that it is aware that there are several misrepresentations of the facts around the Root 44 development. According to the municipality, there are various allegations that are unashamedly baseless and deemed as malicious attempts to implement land uses that were not properly applied for or permitted.
A statement by the municipality indicates that a land-use application was approved for a tourist facility, presented and qualified as a wine emporium in 2009 as well as to serve as a destination to showcase the wine cellars of the Winelands, its products and related cuisine. This approval was only implemented by the developers in 2020.
Municipal Manager Geraldine Mettler says in August 2012 there was a further land use application for a temporary land use departure to operate a Tourist Facility, which was qualified as a farmers’ market, (The Root 44 market) for a 5-year period.
“In 2017, after the lapsing of the 5-year period granted for the Root 44 market, a new application was brought to establish permanent land use rights for the market. This application was approved by the Municipal Planning Tribunal, subject to a condition that the original 2009 approval for the wine emporium is withdrawn and cancelled,” Mettler said.
Mettler indicated that one of the main considerations for this decision was the anticipated traffic impact if both the market and the wine emporium was accommodated on the same property as the municipality was also concerned that the activities on the property may evolve to a general shopping mall, which may result in a new and undesirable urban node in this rural area.
“The applicant/developer refused to accept these terms and appealed this decision. The Appeal Authority agreed with the decision of the Municipal Planning Tribunal that only one of the two types of developments can be accommodated. The developer elected to choose that the 2009 land use rights for the wine emporium be retained and consequently the land use application for the Tourist Facility, which was qualified as a Tourist Market, was not approved,” she reiterated.
Meanwhile, the municipality said it remains committed to creating a conducive environment for jobs and growth and is acutely aware of the possible economic impact due to the unnecessary delays in the operationalisation of the building as the municipality must however operate within the confines of the law and the decisions taken in line with planning and environmental legislation.
However, the leader of the newly established United Independent Movement (UIM) Neil de Beer visited the Route 44 market and took to social media to express his concerns regarding the challenges at the site.
Today the UIM visited as asked, the Route 44 market and was absolutely shocked in the findings of just sickening injustice for the stakeholders, no matter the challenges, we must find solutions to get jobs and the economy growing. Shocking DA STELLENBOSCH just sad 😳😪😭 https://t.co/U64wW4znsG pic.twitter.com/hpKVuyrKko
— Neil De Beer (@DeNedebe1) September 28, 2021
Picture: Stellenbosch Visio