Tourism Update: New development Kruger gets the nod

Tourism Update: New development Kruger gets the nod

A new tented safari lodge will be developed in the Kruger National Park, following approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

The planned developent Kruger 240-bed Malelane Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park has got the nod of approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Michael Wright, Director and Shareholder of Malelane Safari Resort Investments, told Tourism Update the department had notified it of approval on Thursday.

The Department of Environmental Affairs had approved the development last year, but five appellants subsequently registered appeals. These appeals have been turned down and the department has given the development the go-ahead. “The original environmental authorisation stands and is in place,” said Wright, adding that additional provisions had been included to address some of the concerns raised by the appellants.

Some of those concerns included light and sound pollution as well as traffic congestion issues.

According to Wright, the additional provisions include that the transportation of staff after gate closing times would not be permitted without the express permission of SANParks; all solid waste is required to go to a permitted landfill; and that an independent traffic assessment would be carried out for monitoring purposes. Wright emphasised that, while not included in the original authorisation, the developer had already planned to comply with the second provision.

In the next four months, Wright said it would finalise agreements with investors who were waiting for the development to get final approval. While exact dates have not been set, he expected development to start in November this year, with the lodge opening in November next year.

The lodge will be operated by Carlson Rezidor, which also has a 20% equity stake in the development.

The development, which was first proposed a several years ago, has faced a number of hurdles. The design of the lodge has also changed considerably, including a decision in 2014 to take the lodge off the grid and that it be a tented development. At the time, then SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism Development & Marketing, Glenn Phillips, said the tented design was in keeping with the Kruger as a safari destination.

Wright also said the luxury tented safari lodge development was planned on responsible and sustainable green design principles, mitigating against environmental impacts wherever possible. The planned park and ride was also moved, at the request of one of the appellants, to behind the existing staff houses, while night-time traffic flow will be directed to reduce the impact on residents across the Crocodile River.

Article by: Tessa Reed

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