The largest property investment holding company listed on the JSE‚ Growthpoint Properties‚ has invoked the ire of Klerksdorp townsfolk over its aversion to a lucrative new development in the town.
The property group‚ which owns the town's 20‚000m² City Mall in the central business district‚ has objected to the North West Townships Board over the municipality allowing a new development on the outskirts of town - the R1bn Matlosana Mall being built by Stellenbosch-based Abacus Asset Management.
Plans for the 60‚000m² mall - situated at the eastern entrance to the town along the N12 - have been met with fierce hostility by opposing developers ever since first being mooted in 2007.
But the high-level fighting has impeded much-needed economic growth and stifled job creation‚ say townsfolk who earlier this month marched on Growthpoint.
Organised by the Matlosana Development Forum‚ marchers demanded the group explain why it was opposed to the new mall‚ even though it was unlikely to poach City Mall's central business district customers.
"At the moment we don't know where they stand. They [Growthpoint] complained saying the new development would kill the central business district and erode their business‚ but the new mall will be on the outskirts of town and won't affect them‚" said Vusi Moyakhe‚ forum secretary.
"The Matlosana Mall is a much-needed job creator and companies which oppose it are simply opposing job creation.
"Growthpoint also has to answer our questions about why they have not followed through on their corporate social investment since taking over the City Mall [in 2005]."
Growthpoint's appeal to the townships board is a last-ditch attempt to halt the Matlosana Mall after fellow Klerksdorp development‚ Flamwood Mall - through owners Diggers Development - had its appeal over the development to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed with costs in November last year .
Flamwood had taken the City of Matlosana [Klerksdorp city council] to the North Gauteng High Court‚ and later appealed to the SCA‚ over alleged irregularities in the 2007 sale of the land by the municipality.
But in the latest blow to objectors‚ an interim notice issued by the townships board regarding Growthpoint's appeal against the Matlosana Mall noted the appeal was dismissed because it "was not legally lodged and therefore there is no appeal before the board for adjudication".
The board will issue its full "finding and recommendation" next week [December 5]‚ after which Growthpoint will have two months [60 days] to respond. Thereafter North West Local Government MEC China Dodovu will give a final decision on the matter.
Klerksdorp Mayor Mike Khauoe said he hoped the development could finally go ahead.
"All we need is for the board to rule in our favour. The development will also boost residential developments around town‚" said Khauoe.
Managing director of Abacus‚ Gavin Blows‚ said the development would create 2‚000 temporary jobs during the 19 months of construction‚ and thereafter 1‚500 permanent jobs.
He refused to comment on the townships board's ruling until it was final.
Growthpoint said it would not comment until it received the full finding and recommendation from the townships board next week.
"On the advice of our legal counsel we have no comment on the issue at this stage as the matter is sub judice and will remain so until such time as the townships board has delivered their full judgment‚ including reasons for this judgment‚" said Stephan Le Roux‚ Growthpoint regional portfolio divisional director.
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