Bo-Kaap loses land battle

The street in Bo-Kaap where the planned development will take place.

Poor communities are being punished for defending themselves, believes chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA), Osman Shaboodien, following the High Court’s decision to dismiss the community’s objection against a planned development in Buitengracht Street.

The City approved the R1 billion development, which is set to be 60m high, 18 storeys, with more than 200 apartments and three basement levels of parking.

The residents of Bo-
Kaap objected to the development, stating that the building would permanently deface the rich history, culture and heritage of the area.

They argued that the development would cause traffic congestion and it would have an extremely negative impact on the heritage significance of the area that would be felt for generations to come.

In June last year, the BKCRA together with the body corporate of 35 on Rose, a sectional title property in Rose Street which would share a street with the proposed development, and a heritage practitioner, city planner and former director of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Cape Town, Fabio Todeschini, challenged the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal’s decision to grant the developer, Buitengracht Properties, rights of development on two sites.

The court ruled in favour of the developer and the City on Friday August 17.

Mr Shaboodien said they were extremely worried about the court’s decision.

“We feel that they are punishing the Bo-Kaap community for defending itself. This is a far-reaching judgment with extreme consequences.”

Mr Shaboodien said the community of Bo-Kaap would be appealing the court’s decision.

The City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said they are never happy to be in litigation with residents and organisations, but welcome the fact that the judge found no error, nor any invalid or improper process or decision making in this matter.

“The applicants generally challenged every aspect of the City’s decision making and the processes followed and the court found no merit in any of those challenges. The decision by the Municipal Planning Tribunal to grant the developer certain development rights on two sites that were to be consolidated, one of which was partially in the city centre Heritage Protection Overlay Zone, and the decision by the executive mayor, acting in her capacity as the appeal authority to uphold those consents, were challenged,” he said.

Mr Herron said the city centre was the biggest jobs centre and they need to balance this with more residential development.

He said Buitengracht was a wide, provincial road and within the historic city centre was an appropriate place for development.