More than seven months after announcing the opening of a camping site at De Mond in Voëlklip, the developer says final approval for the development is still in the works.

The Pretoria-based Pohl Property Development Group (PPDG), which won the development rights for De Mond in 2017, announced in October last year that a camping site would open for the public in December 2018. However, shortly after the announcement it became clear that the site would not be ready for the December season and it was envisaged that the site would be opened for campers by Easter this year.

Last week Edmund Pohl, CEO of PPDG, said in a statement that the company is still in the process of planning the various facilities, including the campsite, for the proposed development. The resort, once completed, will also include self-catering units, a boutique hotel, conference facilities and a wellness spa.

“Market signals will also determine when it will be a feasible time to commence with the construction of the various phases of the proposed development. We are still working with council towards an approval for the submitted plans for Voëlklip Camping and the larger development,” said Pohl.

He added that the company is still in the process of clearing the overgrown site. “We have concentrated our efforts towards the side of De Vette Mossel and have removed many alien species. Once we have council approval for the submitted building plans a team will be appointed to clear the campsite area and commence with the necessary building work.”

Last year PPDG said it planned to open approximately 20 to 30 campsites with two ablution facilities and a laundry room. “These structures are already present on the site but will be reinstated and/or refurbished. We are hoping to extend Voëlklip Camping to over 100 sites by 2019 subject to public demand.

As the development phases continue, Voëlklip Camping will decrease in size and move closer to its long-term position on site. We propose 18 campsites in the long-term plan, with each site having its own private ablution facilities,” the company said at the time.

Approval of the development will follow the tender process, which took more than a year after the closure of the caravan park in 2013, when the eviction of De Mond’s long-time residents made headlines.

According to the development proposal, the project entails a mixed-use resort, with the design taking the sensitive environmental area into consideration. The developers have said that the milkwood forests, beach areas and heritage conditions have dictated the proposed layout of the resort.

Regarding the development of a hotel, Pohl said they are negotiating with potential hotel operators, but no agreement will be signed until the consent use application has been approved by council. “The political situation in Hermanus has also lengthened the process of consulting with various operators.”

According to the municipality, the official 45-year lease agreement will commence on 1 July 2019. “A site development proposal has been received, but more information is needed before the proposal as a whole, together with a public participation process, will be considered,” the municipality said in a statement.

PPDG earlier said the establishment of a caravan park will be the first of several phases of the development. “The land and the old amenities are in a state of disrepair and overgrown with weeds and shrubs. We want to beautify it and build new ablution blocks so that the whole area will be enhanced and look better. In addition to this, the exposure will also allow us to start marketing the development that will be built there over the next few years.”

According to PPDG, great thought has been put into creating the ultimate getaway experience and Voëlklip is fast becoming one of the most popular spots for caravanners. “Over 100 camping sites will be scattered across a 10.5 ha piece of untouched land in a natural landscape with optimal views over the ocean and mountain ranges. Nestled between the Klein River mountain range and the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean, this camping site offers visitors the best of all worlds.

“Voëlklip Camping will offer a combination of both serviced facilities with ablution blocks, electricity and water point access, as well as non-serviced sites for the more adventurous camper. The camping site is within walking distance of the blue-flag Grotto Beach and a stone’s throw from Fernkloof Nature Reserve.”

The development drew heavy criticism from the community, especially as a result of an apparent lack of public participation with residents before the creation of the camping site was announced.

“As far as we are concerned, no residents have received notification with regards to this. Historically the De Mond Caravan park was a bone of contention, especially during high season when the large number of campers create a lot of noise pollution,” the Hermanus Ratepayers’ Association (HRA) said in an earlier statement.

“The site has been in disrepair for so long that we are doubtful if the sewerage infrastructure is still up to scratch and if there will be adequate water supply to the camp. We also have wider issues regarding the health and safety of the public as there is no official count of the pathogens in the Klein River Lagoon. Initial indications are that the lagoon is not safe for human recreational activities.”

The municipality acquired the land as part of a Crown Grant in 1942, which stipulates that the land may not be sold and must be used for a public resort or recreational purposes.

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