Princess Vlei plan flourishes

Andrea Courvert with a model showing some of the proposed developments on the eastern shore.

The Princess Vlei Forum (PVF) and other organisations showcased plans for the development of the vlei during an open day last week.

The group met on Wednesday March 27 at the League of the Friends of the Blind in Grassy Park to discuss recent developments and brainstorm further plans.

About five years ago the PVF launched a community campaign to create a vision for the space through workshops, surveys, and discussions.

Recent upgrades include the improved parking area, braai facilities, a wooden bridge over the southern canal and a BMX track. Some of the City’s long-term plans for Princess Vlei include a children’s adventure play park, which will shortly be erected on the eastern shore and a walkway or jogging track to circumnavigate the vlei.

Bridgett Pitt, from PVF, said the proposed track offers a 5km trail and will be suitable for use as a Parkrun. Draft concept plans with proposed improvements to the Princess Vlei Eco-adventure centre on the western shore were also presented for comment.

Alex Lansdowne, a fynbos restoration expert who has been contracted by the PVF, spoke about the five-year restoration plan through which the forum plans to restore the natural ecosystems on site.

On display were plans and a model showing a small pavilion to be used as a classroom, exhibition space or tearoom.

Ms Pitt said the PVF is looking into ways to fund this initiative.

A video featuring interviews with people around the Legend of the Princess, was also screened to launch an oral history project to capture the Vlei’s rich cultural heritage – an initiative of the Princess Vlei Heritage Committee.

An important proposal currently being explored is holding a regular “pop-up” market to reflect the unique character of the site, express the identity and interests of local communities and to give local artists an opportunity to promote and sell their art.

The group also discussed ways to protect Princess Vlei from threats posed by dumping, vandalism, illegal car use, sand mining, vagrancy and other anti-social activity.

Ms Pitt said the PVF recently raised funds to employ a full-time manager, and the City has deployed twenty-four hour specialised rangers.

“While these interventions have greatly alleviated the problems, these activities remain an ongoing threat to efforts to rehabilitate and beautify the site,” she said.

The group also raised the need to protect the site in the long term from the threat of inappropriate development.

“One of the best ways to protect the area is to restore its natural beauty and biodiversity, enhance its cultural heritage value and to continue promoting its value as a space for nature lovers and the general community. We look forward to engaging with community members further on these issues.”