College land debate continues

Heather Mulraney, Somerset West

Regarding the letters on “Concerns about new estate on College land” (Bolander letters, January 18):

The Helderberg College has been an important role model and a place of higher education in Somerset West for over 120 years.

The values that govern them are: quality, transparency, integrity, service, respect, Christ-centeredness, innovation, consultation, and whole-life excellence, according to their website.

Unfortunately, the manner in which the latest planned development for 49 houses has gone about makes me question the important role they play in our community.

Friends of Helderberg Estate held a meeting with the president of Helderberg College in early 2016 when they first heard of the development.

At the end of the meeting there was an unequivocal agreement by the president, on behalf Helderberg College, that the representatives of the neighbourhood would be kept abreast of any further progress to the planned housing estate development.

Aside from the negative impact on the local ecosystem, (referring to Chris Thorpe’s letter to Bolander last week),

the increased traffic on the farm roads of the estate, (PJ Maud, Tom Blomefield and John Wendall-Smith’s letters of last week) and the debilitating effect upon the ingress of rainwater to recharge the water table (Steffen Kalbskopf’s letter of last week) the fact remains that the president of the Helderberg College had made a commitment to the residents of Helderberg Estate and that commitment has now been broken.

This undermines four of Helderberg College’s core values: transparency, integrity, respect and consultation.

As a friend and resident of the Helderberg Estate, I request that our concerns be heard and that if the college proceeds to conduct itself and its business dealings with its current lack of transparency, then it has a duty to rethink its value system, the role it plays and the legacy it wishes to leave in our community.

The greater community of Somerset West simply cannot sit by and watch Helderberg College develop our beautiful mountain behind our backs, “as they deem fit”.

Where does it end? A beachfront-type, cliff-face cluster of concrete?

This is not just about the Helderberg Estate, this is about our magnificent Helderberg Mountain, its delicate ecosystem and the protection of the urban edge of our beautiful town.

In conclusion and in response to Dr Bernhard Ficker’s letter of last week, where he states that Helderberg College should be allowed to develop “as they deem fit” – no!

Our town has an urban edge for a very good reason and it needs the support of the community to protect it right now.

There is adequate land within our existing boundary that is available for development.