City’s Clifton tender invite courts controversy

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The City is inviting tenders for the purchase and lease of portions of three City-owned erven in the Clifton and Camps Bay area.

The Atlantic Sun has reported on the council’s plans for the land which residents across the city have been concerned about (“Tussle over beach jewel”, Atlantic Sun, August 20 2015).

At a public meeting that took place in Camps Bay last year, there were fears about what impact any development would have on the area, which included Maiden’s Cove.

Former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs, a Clifton resident, added to the debate by saying Maiden’s Cove should be considered a heritage site because of what it means to so many people (“Albie Sachs concerned about development”, Atlantic Sun, September 17 2015).

Chris Willemse, chairperson of the Camps Bay Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, said they were not surprised by the announcement of the tender invitation.

“The City is taking public land from the people of Cape Town. Why can’t they do the environmental and impact assessments themselves?”

He said they were willing to take the City of Cape Town to court on the matter.

“We’ve seen what has happened with the Wynberg and the Camps Bay Bowling Club winning against the City in court due to a lack of engagement. They have shown even less regard in this case,” he said.

“They only said they were increasing the size of the public land because they are afraid of losing votes.

“They haven’t shown anyone the plans.”

He also said that the public participation process had been a sham and described it as a tick-boxing exercise.

Jared Rossouw, co-director of the NGO Ndifuna Ukwazi, whose Reclaim the City campaign focuses on lower-income housing near the city centre, said the City of Cape Town owns very limited but well located public land.

“In the midst of a massive and mounting housing crisis, the City has an obligation to use its land stock to provide affordable well-located housing.

“The City needs to provide a reasonable explanation as to why some affordable housing cannot be built on the Clifton site itself. They have not done so yet. Thousands of workers travel in to Clifton and the surrounding area every day to clean homes, staff restaurants, and maintain the area’s pristine amenities.”

He added that this was costly, time-consuming and unjust in an area where a great many “homes” are vacant for much of the year.

On the public participation process, Mr Rossouw said: “The City has entered in rounds of public participation which is commendable. What we have not seen is a full record published of all written and oral submissions which have influenced the final tender specifications. When it comes to public land, everything should be public.”

Ian Neilson, deputy mayor of Cape Town, said the tender was built on a large-scale public infrastructure investment drive.

It is expected to see an obligatory investment by the private sector in return for the development opportunities on offer of an estimated R190 million for the upgrade of existing public spaces and facilities in the area.

“As a response to the public request for social housing and improved community integration, 10% of the financial offer of the sale/lease proceeds by the successful tenderer will be earmarked for future City-developed, near inner-city social housing projects – the sites of which would be determined in the future.

“It is foreseen that approximately R55 million will be invested in expanding our beloved Maiden’s Cove picnic area to develop this under-utilised public asset between Clifton and Camps Bay in a manner that is similar to the City’s popular Green Point Urban Park.”

Mr Neilson, added: “Our envisaged ‘Maiden’s Cove Urban Park’ will be transformed to about three times its current size to an inclusive, environmentally protected, safe and accessible place for all Capetonians.”

The statement said an estimated R30 million will be required for a proposed safe and well-lit boardwalk between Clifton Beach, Maiden’s Cove, Glen Beach and Camps Bay Beach, which will be an extension to the pedestrian network on the Atlantic seaboard.

The design also requires the successful tenderer to undertake an upgrade and renewal of transport and non-motorised transport infrastructure along Victoria Road at a cost of an estimated R25.5 million, while requiring an estimated R23 million for the establishment of the Bantry Point Caves boardwalk to enhance public access in this rocky area.

The development is also set to include a boutique hotel or apartment site (3 500m² of bulk); a commercial component of 5 000m² of bulk (restaurants and retail), and a mixed-use component (offices/studios/apartments) of 2 250m² and a parking facility consisting of approximately 700 bays, including for residents in the area and members of the public.

“Upon completion of the competitive bid process, further public participation will be undertaken as a Heritage Impact Assessment, land use and rezoning application and an Environmental Impact Assessment will be triggered.

“This tender is a great example of how we are trying to leverage City-owned assets to unlock investment and economic opportunities, while at the same time requiring the private sector to help us to invest in public infrastructure which we cannot otherwise afford due to the many pressing needs of our communities across the city,” said Mr Neilson.