AFTER years of complaints from Summerstrand residents about illegal dumping, overgrown bush and criminal activity, the open land adjacent to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is being cleared and sold off for development by the municipality.
Extension 14, bordering the university’s nature reserve, consists of 210 fully-serviced erven with an average size of 800 square metres.
Some 37 plots have been cleared and the first 10 have been put up for sale via tender to test the market. The price of the plots ranges from R380000 to R420000.
The area, serviced about five years ago at a cost of R60-million, has been plagued with issues including illegal dumping, lack of funds to clear the plots and a moratorium on land sales.
Last month, police found a stash of stolen goods – including televisions, jewellery and other household valuables – hidden in the bush. Several years ago a hijacked car was found hidden in the bushes. Criminals also used the area as a hideout.
Captain Stanley Jarvis of the Humewood police station said they had “huge problems” in terms of crime in the area and it became a nuisance.
He said patrolling Extension 14 was difficult because of all the rubble that had been dumped in the streets.
“At the moment it is 90% better. The roads have been cleaned up and the area is more accessible for patrol vehicles.”
He said the sale of this land has and would continue to decrease the level of crime in the area dramatically.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the municipality had advertised the sale in newspapers and the plots would go to the highest bidder, whether it is an individual or a company.
As with all state tenders, the previously disadvantaged will have preference.
“We have received 21 tenders and are currently processing them,” he said.
Baron said the municipality had advertised in newspapers and once bidders had responded, the municipality followed municipal procedures to determine who had the best tender for the land.
“Many factors are taken into account, however most of the decision is market-related.”
Kupido said the municipality also had an obligation to ensure integration of all suburbs and this was an opportunity for people who had the “financial ability to live in more affluent areas” as well.
Before the entrances to the area were closed Summerstrand residents had complained that overgrown bush on the land was an easy escape route for criminals and a breeding ground for vermin.
In 2009 the municipality reported it was trying to sell the plots but admitted that while its waste management department was responsible for clearing the land, there was no money to do so.
In February this year the moratorium on land sales was lifted by Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, Zanoxolo Wayile, due to significant negative budget implications.
Ward 2 DA councillor Dean Biddulph said the clearing and selling of the plots was the first issue he had tackled as a councillor in 2008, writing to “everyone including the mayor”. “Once the area is more developed, it will begin to generate revenue,” said Biddulph. “It is a substantial investment for the Metro.”
He said the development would generate jobs both temporary and permanent because once homes were built, domestic workers and gardeners would be employed.
Baron said the rest of the erven would be cleared as the tender process unfolded and market demand and response picked up.
“The market determines the speed at which properties are sold and it is common knowledge the current market is sluggish.”
Biddulph believes the prices the plots are going for are excellent value for money and will help with the upliftment of Summerstrand.