Minister Shaningwa approves new height restrictions in Swakopmund

The new Swakopmund Town Planning Amendment Scheme No. 61 was published in the Government Gazette on Wednesday (15 November), after the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, approved the scheme in October. It is now law.

The new scheme includes drastic changes to building heights and bulk developments all over town. It paves the way for buildings with a height of up to 40 meters and no limit on bulk. Since the Amendment Scheme was approved, it has sparked a public debate. The main criticism: it allegedly was never laid open for public input.
namib times contacted the Municipality of Swakopmund and requested a copy of the scheme, to verify the exact details. The request was denied.
“No, the scheme cannot be sent, it needs to be certified by the Minister first as correct version. I do not have a copy to verify with the electronic version (sic)”, was the official reply by the GM: Engineering Services.
According to the Government Gazette (6472) published on 15 November, two Town Planning Amendment Schemes, being No. 61 and No. 62, were published in the Government Gazette.
Henceforth, the new limit for height restriction was changed to 15 meters for single residential (8m before); to 30 meters for general residential, local business, light industrial, and office (was up to 12m before); and to 40 meters for general business, general industrial and institutional (was up to 16 meters in some cases before).
Some developers have already taken advantage of the new scheme as the new development at the site of the old swimming was recently showcased during a public scoping exercise. This development, if it indeed is approved, will be the first high-rise in Swakopmund grazing the 40-meter mark.
Similarly rumors regarding another high-rise building planned on an erf located between the office of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Zum Kaiser Hotel has surfaced recently.
Wilfried Groenewald, Town Councilor representing the Swakopmund Residents Association (SRA), has asked why the change to the scheme was never advertised in newspapers, as is usually the case and is prescribed in the Town Planning Ordinance. He particularly asks why the change of the scheme is shrouded in such secrecy. “We should work on a concept, especially when it comes to such drastic changes”, he said. (The full content of a letter Groenewald sent to the Municipality appears on page 2).
The initial proposal to the changes in height restriction were presented to the municipality in a letter sent by Daniel Ndhidinua, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, in July 2016. Where exactly the initial application for the drastic changes came from, could not be established.
The first high-rise building at the coast, the twelve-story beachside apartment block at Long Beach known as “Ocean Key”, never materialized. Construction was halted.


Height restrictions:

Letter by Mr Groenewald

We refer to the public scoping on Friday the 10th November 2017, regarding the proposed development of up to 40m high rise building on Erf 4747 (Old Swimming Pool). We also refer to the Town Planning Amendment Scheme No 61 whereby public participation was denied by Council.
The Swakopmund Residents Association therefore strongly objects against any such developments; and the Amendment Scheme No 61 for the following reasons:
·Amendment Scheme No 61:
∙Your Council openly denied public participation on the proposed amendment of the height provisions contained in scheme No 12 in its Agenda at Council Meeting on Thursday 29 September 2016, although according to Article 18 of the Constitution of Namibia the public has a right thereto. The proposed amendment of height restrictions was then included into Amendment Scheme No 61 and submitted to NAMPAB for approval. However, according the Town Planning Ordinance 18 of 1954, as amended, Clause 17, this intention to amend the clauses of the scheme, should have been advertised and should “contain a concise statement of the effect of the resolution.” These statutory requirements were clearly omitted and the whole matter is therefore unlawful and unconstitutional.
∙A town planning scheme is a legal framework whereby people develop and invest. As these amendments to the existing town planning scheme are so severe, public input is of utmost importance and any omissions thereof can only be interpreted as unethical or even with corrupt intentions.
∙Swakopmund has a registered Conservation Area protected by the National Heritage Act of 2004. This was done to serve a certain purpose and any changes cannot be undertaken by disregarding any public input or the relevant statutory requirements.
·Public Scoping of Proposed Development on Erf 4747, Swakopmund:
∙The public scoping of the proposed development on Erf 4747 cannot be regarded as a lawful entity, as the Amendment Scheme No 61 has not been gazetted yet.
∙The advertisement of the so called public scoping was insufficient and most of the public were unaware of it. Should this not have been done in the same manner as Clause 17 of the Town Planning Ordinance, since no other advertisement took place?
∙The building plans submitted were insufficient, as they only showed some elevations and the colour schemes do not fit into the surroundings.
∙The proposed development will obstruct the light beams of the lighthouse and any such matters must be liaised with Messrs. NAMPORT, Namibia.
∙According to the National Heritage Act of 2004, Article 54, an environmental impact assessment must be performed to “the extent to which the proposed area and height of the proposed development may be obtrusive in relation to the area and height of the protected place or listed building in the vicinity.” As the adjacent lighthouse is listed as “Grade A” protection, this proposed new development is totally out of context and can therefore not be allowed.
∙In terms of the National Heritage Act of 2004, a separate environmental impact assessment must be undertaken for the proposed hotel development. This has not been done.

Yours truly,
Wilfried Groenewald
Councillor – Swakopmund Residents Association”.

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