A Dutch property developer plans to build what he calls a “solar city” – a multi-billion rand, green housing project that will be self- sustaining and completely powered by renewable energy in Saldanha Bay.
He believes that it will be a world first.
Property investor Robert Baron owns three farms – a total of 1 600 hectares of land. He and several foreign investors plan to invest a whopping R6.5bn into the green housing project, which will include 6 000 houses for lower to middle-income groups and will have its own renewable power source from solar and wind energy.
It will also have office parks, restaurants and shops.
He said: “You can call me a modern Robin Hood. There is a dire need for housing for the lower and middle-income brackets.”
Plans for the project have been nine years in the making.
He said with major industrial projects being proposed for the town, housing was needed to accompany economic growth. “Whoever gets the construction contract has to sign a clause saying they will use local labour and transfer vital skills to the communities. The construction phase will create 7 500 jobs and 5 000 direct jobs would be created in maintenance and running of the wind generators, sewerage water purification, plumbing and power generation.”
Baron said that renewable energy and the use of recycling technologies were essential for running this green city. “Companies could use the power from the solar city when residents are at work. This way home owners would be able to use the power supply as leverage for better housing subsidies if they work for these companies, or they could renegotiate better interest rates on their home loans with these companies.”
He said a feasibility study for the project would be done soon and then they would know the costs of the houses.
“While these costs will be kept as low as possible, investors will receive good returns from office blocks, restaurants and shops.”