The Envirocentre on the Valkenburg Hospital grounds has always been an important base for environmental groups, facilitating open discussion and innovation for almost two decades. Read Emma Bryce’s report Envirocentre_Bryce.
The recent Open House held by Chand to comply with the Public Engagement Process for the proposed redevelopment of the Valkenberg Hospital raised many concerns. The interested and affected parties were able to speak to the project team but many issues were still not resolved. One of these is the future of the Envirocentre.
The building is the old Valkenberg Dispensary, an attractive 65 year old building, with lovely wooden floors, high ceilings and original doors and window frames. It commands an inspiring view of Devil’s Peak and the Liesbeek Lake, and has a long open space in front of the building where seasonal ponds and grassy fields give refuge to frogs and toads, as well as numerous bird species.
However, as is clearly stated in the report, the Envirocentre is far more than an attractive building set in open grounds, it is in fact, where a space was created where diverse groups could interact and energise civil society.
The Chand proposal for their client, the Western Cape Provincial Administration and the Department of Health, does not preserve this important space. Instead the whole area is to be covered by extensive new buildings, destroying the heritage centre and the open areas leading to Liesbeek Lake.
It seems to be a sad waste of a lovely, historical community space.