Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY - An application to turn an existing property in the lagoon area of Walvis Bay into a rehabilitation centre has been turned down by the local authority after receiving 70 objections against the proposal.
There is currently no rehabilitation facility in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund despite alcohol and drug abuse considered a major problem at the coastal towns.
The applicants of the proposed development are John Henry Coetzee and Loraine Liebenberg. The applicants have now been advised to seek alternative land outside townland for the facility. According to council documents, the centre would have accommodated a
maximum of 20 patients that would have stayed for 21 to 45 days and at least 10 permanent staff.
The centre was earmarked for the Richard Dyer Street close to the lagoon. Chairperson of the management committee, councillor Lilo Niilenge when tabling the recommendations for October during the monthly meeting on Tuesday said most of the objections received were from residents living in the vicinity of the envisaged project.
“In summary, people objected because the rehabilitation centre will reduce property values, be a security risk and will compromise children’s safety at nearby parks and will increase drug dealers in the area,” she said on Tuesday. “The proposed development itself does not conform with the town planning control measure that stipulates that the minimum size for such a development needs to be at least 1 500 square metres.”
Council also stated the Walvis Bay Integrated Urban Spatial Development Framework is also silent when it comes to rehabilitation centres or institutional land use. “The institutional uses are only proposed in other suburbs, not in the lagoon area,” it reads. Council then highlighted the need for such an establishment as illicit drug abuse continues to be on the increase. It also states that insufficient access to substance abuse treatment centres for illicit drug users constitutes a breach of the right to access healthcare. “However, most of the issues raised by the objectors in terms of safety, security amenity are mainly based on the perceived misapprehensions about such centres, relating to substance abuse. Research have evidently revealed that the value of residential properties do decrease due to the establishment of such centres,” the councillor stated during the meeting.
The local authority also explained the development will also not comply with the town planning scheme in terms of the minimum erf size for special institutional building. “In view of the above, the proposed rezoning and consent application cannot be supported. However, based on the fact the proposed development is a needed facility in Walvis Bay, the applicants are recommended to identify an alternative site for development,” read the council response. Walvis Bay mayor Wilfred Immanuel yesterday also told New Era it was unfortunate that the establishment cannot be accommodated in town. “However, such an establishment will be ideal for the town and we have suggested that they approach the Topnaar Traditional Authority for land outside Walvis Bay,” he said. He added that they are hoping that the applicant will not drop the project but rather look for alternatives, as the town is indeed in need of such a facility.
Not entertained… The Walvis Bay lagoon area where a rehabilitation centre was proposed.