Battle for Clifton land

Clifton Beach Photo: NSRI Table Bay

Residents and ratepayers are adamant that the battle for a piece of public land in Clifton, worth around R1 billion, is not over.

This comes after the City of Cape Town announced that the tender to develop on the site had been awarded last week.

The controversial tender for development on the prime public land was advertised in March last year after a series of public meetings.

The City said that according to the tender documents the bidder K2015298271 has two shareholders – Vunani Mion Properties Pty Ltd and Tobie Mynhardt Properties CC.

Brett Herron, Mayco committee member for transport and urban development, said that K2015298271 offered the highest bid. The second highest bid was from Maiden’s Cove Properties Limited (R766.5 million) while the third highest bid was submitted by Farlo Touch Edms
(R683 21 million). “The City of Cape Town advertised the tender for the development of the City-owned land between the Clifton bungalows and Camps Bay in March last year.”

Mr Herron also said that the City would use 10% of the financial offer – thus approximately R100 million – for affordable and inclusionary housing projects on well-located land in the inner-city. “We are in the process of auditing and assessing City-owned land that could be used for this purpose. We will be able to provide more details once we have identified suitable land parcel(s), needless to say these will be situated close to work and public transport.”

The City said the Immovable Property Adjudication Committee (IPAC) had awarded an approximately R1 billion tender for the development of the Clifton Precinct to K2015298271 South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

According to the City of Cape Town, development in the area would see an improvement on public space in the area which they say is currently degraded.

However, residents and ratepayers in the area disagree. Chris Willemse, chairman of the Camps Bay Ratepayers’ Association, criticised the public participation process. “It was always going to be announced,” he said.

Mr Willemse added that the matter would be discussed with the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance to discuss the best way forward and whether to take legal action.

He also said that he was concerned that any development at Maiden’s Cove will mean it becomes an exclusive area. “This was one beach on the Atlantic Seaboard that wasn’t touched and it was wonderful. De Lille is selling prime City assets to her friends. It is going to be a long battle and we are not going to take this lying down. We will fight for the interests of the city as a whole,” added Mr Willemse.

Len Swimmer, deputy chairman of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance, also criticised the public participation process. “It was a sham and a farce,” said Mr Swimmer. “It is very, very frustrating.”

He added that the ratepayers’ comments weren’t taken into account by the City during the public participation phase. He added that further legal action was likely and the matter was on the agenda for the organisation’s next meeting on Saturday October 14.

Mark Jackson, who started the Save Cape Town group in response to the matter last year, said he felt disappointed with the outcome. “There are lots of questions that need to be raised and the timing of it seems quite strange,” he said.

Mr Jackson , also started a “Save Maiden’s Cove” petition last year, which has more than 2 000 signatures. “There is a pattern developing where the ratepayers are having to fight their own City council. The City is using ratepayers’ money against them in court and that seems absurd.”

He said the City also have said how issues such as traffic and sewage would be affected by the proposed development. “There is going to be a very strong push back against this and it is not over.”

Citing the stopping of commercialisation at Princess Vlei and the Sea Point Promenade in recent years, he added: “There is hope in people power.”

Clifton resident and former Constitutional Court judge, Albie Sachs, said the announcement about the successful bidder appeared to come out of the blue. “A lot of it seems to have been done back to front. There should have been environmental impact assessment and traffic reports done.The main concern relates to the lack of clarity in which it’s been done. It is a piece of public land of great scenic and historic significance that will be privatised.”

Judge Sachs stressed, again, that it was vital that Maiden’s Cover be protected. “Maiden’s Cove is so special in our history that it should have been the start of any programme and not an add on. It looks like the main thrust of the project is to build houses and a hotel.”

Meanwhile, activist organisation, Ndifuna Ukwazi, said that if Clifton Precinct is suitable for development, then it is suitable for the development of affordable housing.

In a statement, the organisation said: “We welcome the R100 million contribution to affordable and inclusionary housing projects and look forward to seeing the City immediately open a public participation process – this is entirely necessary. We want to see it being spent on new developments and not these most recent commitments for Woodstock, Salt River and the inner city. Instead, we want to see housing on the Atlantic Seaboard where workers in the area enjoy the same breathtaking views as their wealthier counterparts.”

Mr Herron said that the City had received eight tenders in total. “A thorough and rigorous supply chain management process was followed. This included a due diligence process conducted by external auditors. A statutory appeal period of 21 days is now under way, allowing those bidders who have been unsuccessful the right to appeal the outcome of the process.

“The City-owned land between the Clifton bungalows and Camps Bay is approximately 16ha in size, of which 5ha has now been made available to the successful bidder,” said Mr Herron.

He also said that claims that comments the City received during the public participation process weren’t taken into account were incorrect. “The draft plans were amended to take some of the concerns into account. The public will be provided with further opportunities to comment on the detail designs when the development application(s) are submitted. The planning processes and required statutory public participation for the development of the site will take place in accordance with the Municipal Planning By-law and Municipal Finance Management Act.”

Development at the site is set to include two pockets of single residential developments consisting of 52 residential stands, a boutique hotel or serviced apartment site consisting of 3 500 m², a commercial component (restaurants and retail) consisting of 5 000 m², a mixed-use component (offices, studios, apartments) consisting of 2 250 m² as well as an underground parking facility consisting of approximately 725 parking bays.

Mr Herron added: “The cost of the investment in the upgrading of existing public infrastructure and the construction of new public infrastructure will be funded by the City. The proposed development will rejuvenate the surrounding area; improve public access to the beach, ocean and recreational facilities; protect the natural vegetation; enhance local and international tourism potential; and unlock investment to drive job creation.”

The City added that the “planning processes and required statutory public participation for the development of the site will take place in accordance with the Municipal Planning By-law and Municipal Finance Management Act.”