Residents oppose Common clinic

The old bowling green with Hout Bay Common in the background.

The Hout Bay Residents and Ratepayers’ Association fear the establishment of a polyclinic on the Hout Bay Common will “entirely destroy” the building of the intended Integrated United Family Park, saying it would deprive people of the village’s only “green lung” and the chance to interact with one another in a healthy environment.

The association’ warning comes after representatives from the Western Cape Health Department announced at a meeting of the Hout Bay Health Forum on Wednesday October 26 that the department favoured the site of the old bowling green for the facility with extended hours.

While public participation processes have been undertaken at which the community have been given opportunity to voice their concerns, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo has already stated that the existing clinics in Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu would not be upgraded, as this would not be cost-effective. It is estimated that the upgrade would be in the region of R60 million.

Some Hout Bay residents have argued they want the common to remain untouched, while others say because they have the existing clinics on their doorsteps, they don’t have to spend money on travelling expenses.

However, residents and ratepayers’ association chairperson Len Swimmer believes the health department’s determination to pursue with the old bowling green site will do irreparable damage to plans for the family park.

The proposal for the family park was submitted to the City by residents in September last year, and includes a children’s play park, food garden and picnic area among other amenities.

It is envisaged that parts of the existing community space – bowling green, scout hall, bicycle track and baby park – would undergo budget-friendly upgrades with the intention of making it a space for all Hout Bay’s residents.

The plan already enjoys the buy-in of stakeholders such as Kronendal Primary School, non-profit Thrive, the residents and ratepayers’association, Shoreline Church and Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay.

Resident Julia Gane, who submitted the proposal, said Phase 1 of the park was already under way.

“The fourth leg of the traffic circle is almost finished, thus creating a safer enclosed recreational space free of traffic. And, the children’s park on the corner of Andrews Road will undergo a complete revamp by the end of this year as the City of Cape Town has allocated R240000 for this purpose. It is going to be a wonderful asset to our community’s children and a one-of-a-kind park in Hout Bay,” she said.

Mr Swimmer said residents were not against a polyclinic in Hout Bay but, there were at least two other sites which, if used, would not deprive the Hout Bay citizenry of a facility where they could “come together and interact in a healthy and instructive environment”.

These sites are Erf 666 opposite Berg En Dal estate and next to Bay Mews on Main Road, and a piece of City-owned land.

“Their building site requires 4000 to 6000 metres in size. Public open spaces for community mingling and relaxation are internationally recognised as essential for the long-term well-being of a community. There is no other area of similar size, nature and location that can fulfill this essential purpose in Hout Bay. If it is turned into a health facility that could be located elsewhere, this only remaining green lung for the enjoyment of all who live here will be lost forever,” Mr Swimmer said.

“It is most important to understand that if a polyclinic were sited elsewhere the Hout Bay community would have two very necessary amenities provided, complementing each other to the overall health in mind, body and soul of all who live here.”

He said it seemed the health department was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

“There’s a great opportunity here right now for Hout Bay to get both an Integrated United Family Park as well as an integrated polyclinic – a truly win-win all round, and we are currently working with top provincial officials to achieve this goal,” he said.

Queries sent to health department spokeswoman Luyanda Mfeka had not been answered at the time of going to press.