The council, which has come under attack from various quarters since announcing the proposed development, yesterday moved to deny the latest allegations of dishonesty and secretiveness that have emerged in recent weeks surrounding the process.
Last year, the council invited bids for the proposed project, saying its intention is to build two golf courses - one private and one public, a retail section and high-density residential development at Huddle Park.
In the 1920s, Huddle Park was bequeathed to the local council, apparently on condition that it remained a public open space. It has since hosted an unprofitable golf club, before granting a 15-year lease to the Linksfield Golf Development Company last year.
But sources close to the process have suggested that the preferred bidder, the Tiyani Consortium, which includes Investec, Standard Bank, Global Capital and empowerment groups Peu Group and Shanduka (led by Cyril Ramaphosa), was chosen despite not conforming to the council's key specifications that a third of the site must remain a public open space and must also include a public golf course.
However, council spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane denied the allegations, saying that discussions between the council and the preferred bidder are still ongoing.
“Nothing has been planned, the development is still under discussion, so I don't know where these rumours are coming from,” he told Engineering News Online, adding that a meet between all stakeholders was scheduled for yesterday evening.
“There are no specifics yet for the development. We are seeking a holistic approach to the project, so many details still remain to be worked out,” Modingoane commented.
He confirmed that council is still seeking to develop the 183-ha site into two golf courses - one private and one public, a retail section and high-density residential development, with a public open space.
An official announcement about the details of the project will be made once negotiations with the Tiyani Consortium have been completed.
Tiyani staved off competition from three other consortia, namely Asi Bambane, which includes Tokyo Sexwale Mvelaphanda group, Century Propoerty Development and Alkara, under the leadership of former City Power CEO Niven Pillay.
Initial speculation, linking the likes of Ramaphosa and Sexwale to the development, was denied by the council last year. The council also rejected claims that, while Huddle Park is about to receive R50-million from several corporate giants for the upgrading of its clubhouse and three golf courses, the city is plotting to grab the property for a large-scale upmarket residential, business and commercial development.