CBCRA takes building matter to court

The construction has been going on for months now but the ratepayers are taking the matter to court.

The Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA) are going to court at the end of November to oppose a hotel development in Camps Bay.

A five-star hotel designed by Scott and Partners is under way on Erf 3349 on Victoria Road.

The Place of the Bay hotel once stood on the site “Ratepayers ready to halt beachfront development, March 9, 2023”.

In a statement, the CBCRA accused the City of Cape Town of bias.

“The City has now clearly shown its bias in this matter and its slavish desire to assist unwanted and undesirable development in our world-renowned village.

“In a sworn affidavit before the High Court, a senior City planning official finally conceded that it had incorrectly approved the plans which permit the development of this monster development, which will forever destroy Camps Bay’s iconic beachfront.

“The CBCRA had pointed out this illegality in the plans, relating to the height of the building (15m instead of the permitted 10m) months ago but, somehow, it took this long for the City planners to actually ‘notice’ the problem.

“However, the City is undeterred and has accepted and approved “rider” plans from the developer, to ‘overcome’ this problem. Unsurprisingly, it did the approval in a couple of weeks, rather than waiting time for planning approval offered to the general public, which is months or years.

“Legally, it is not allowed to do this. Once the City has approved plans, it becomes functus officio and cannot in any way amend the plans, as this is the jurisdiction of the courts. The City knows this well and has, over the years, used this legal dictate to tell this ratepayer association (as well as many others in Cape Town) that, even though it concedes a planning problem in some approval, it cannot move to change it as only the High Court can do so (with the associated costs).

“Suddenly, with a very wealthy developer (the site cost R230m) who is unlikely to be too charmed with the City’s ineptitude, the law seems to have magically changed for certain well-paid City officials.

“Further, in a similar case some years ago, which also involved the CBCRA, the presiding judge ruled that a rider plan cannot rescue the unlawfulness of the principal approval (Para 15 of Camps Bay Residents Ratepayers Association and Others v XXX and Others (2005/2009) [2009] ZAWCHC 30; 2009 (6) SA 190 (WCC) (24 March 2009).

“The CBCRA further alleges that the City planners, at the behest of the developer – and behind closed doors and with no public participation – simply changed a decision of the original planning approval to accommodate the developer. This relates to allowing 49 parking bays in lieu of the 120 required.”

The CBCRA said it is certainly not opposed to development that is “sensible, sensitive and sustainable – and within the law”.

“The City has desperately attempted to delay this matter and managed to get the court date of 18 October postponed to 27 November 2023, all to allow the developer to build further and possibly render our legal application nugatory.

“The developer’s builder has worked illegal hours, abused the public resources of the pedestrian pavements, allows its vehicles to block traffic and drive in the wrong direction in one-way streets, has blocked an entire street without any permit and even destroyed the root system of the iconic tree at the corner of The Fairway and Victoria Road, leading to the felling of that landmark in Camps Bay’s history.”

City of Cape Town spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo, said the plans are compliant and responded to the CBCRA.

“The ratepayer association’s attack on the City and its officials is unfounded. In its High Court review application, the association makes misleading and false claims of ‘unlawfulness’ such as (CBCRA chairman Chris) Willemse indicating that the reduction in parking is ‘blatantly unlawful’. That was, as Mr Willemse is aware, however, done due to an amendment to the law in 2019. The 2019 reduction in parking requirements for hotels was publicly advertised.

“The City has refuted all of the association’s review grounds. One error however required correction as the City found that a small part of the fifth-storey, which has not yet been built, would have breached the height limit. This was corrected on 17 October 2023 with an amendment to the building plan. As that part of the hotel had not been built, the height limit was therefore never breached.”