Stimela Shopping Centre on hold for now

The developers of Stimela Shopping Centre have withdrawn their application of an environmental impact assessment (EIA). Without an EIA the centre cannot be constructed. This has been confirmed by Nkululeko Environment and Development Agency.The centre was to be built where Barberton Caravan Park is situated.

On February 6, Khulemani Masingita Holdings notified the department of environmental affairs that it sought to withdraw the application, due to the fact that it is unable to confirm whether the newly amalgamated City of Mbombela Local Municipality (CMLM) will be able to provide services to the site.

On February 14 the department confirmed that it had closed the application.
The application for Stimela Crossing will no longer be reviewed by environmental affairs. Should the developer lodge an application again in the future, a new and complete public-participation process must be adhered to.
No development can go ahead without an authorised EIA and all concerns raised by registered interested and affected parties regarding the proposed development, remain the same.

Cashbuild, Shoprite, SPAR, Woolworths, Spur, Mugg & Bean, Steers, Edgars, Ackermans, Pep, banks and other franchises were earmarked for the centre.

The development would have consisted of 30 units with various floor-space sizes, tailor-made to the need of clients.

According to Andy Nuns, from Barberton/Umjindi Ratepayers Association, they are in favour of the decision taken by the developers.
“Yes, we want the new centre in town, however, there are issues that need to be dealt with before it is constructed. We looked at the traffic flow on General Street. We want the municipality to assure us that the traffic lights that will be provided will be functional unlike the others in town. Will they have a solution to traffic control? The number of lanes on the roads is not enough, we need three, not two.

The nursery school which is across the road will be affected by the increase of the traffic volume, how will they resolve that? Another exit gate should be built on the other side of the centre because one gate is not enough. What happens when the road is closed due to a protest?

The municipality needs to confirm that they will be able to resolve all the outstanding issues before starting with the construction. We like the fact that we will have a shopping centre in our area, however, things need to be done right,” said Nuns.

The association had previously suggested that the centre be moved closer to Umjindi.

“What about those people who do not have cars? They have to use public transport to reach their destinations. What will happen to them? We know the plan includes a lane on the side of the road for taxis, but how will they be able to monitor the taxis so that they do not enter the centre? The space that is provided for the taxis is not enough and the plan might of keeping them away from the centre might not work too,” stated Nunes.

When applying for an EIA there is a set timeline.
The withdrawal was done because the developers knew that since they have still not received the agreement for service, they will not be able to meet the timeline set. As soon as the agreement is received they will then again apply to the department and continue with their plan.

Prior to construction the developer would be required to divert the flow of the creek, to create space for the construction of the centre.

The primary objective of this application would have been the diversion of a section of a temporary watercourse and its associated activities from its current flow path. The proposed diversion segment would have been at the top of the watercourse where it enters the property to be developed.
It would have run for 386 metres, from the point of diversion before it would reconnect with the original path. This proposed diversion would have allowed space for the development of a shopping centre.
The diversion of the watercourse would not have resulted in change in the sheet flow of the volume of water, as the diversion activity itself would not add or remove water.
Currently the watercourse is an artificial furrow with its bed and sides lined with concrete.
The concrete destroyed the function of water infiltration into the ground and annihilated isotope integrity of the watercourse.
At the time of going to press CMLM had not responded to queries.

Bridget Mpande

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