Court rules against civic’s building appeal

Another development in Bo-Kaap has been approved.

A development in Buitengracht Street in the Bo-Kaap, dubbed the “monster building” has potentially been given the green light after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled against the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association’s (BKCRA) appeal on Tuesday March 24.

In February this year, the association appealed against the decision of the Western Cape High Court to dismiss an application brought by the BKCRA and others to review and set aside a decision of the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) in 2016 and an appeal a decision by the then mayor, Patricia de Lille in 2017 (“Development goes to appeals court,” Atlantic Sun, February 27).

Both decisions involved the approval of four separate but inter-related applications in respect of two erven, 144698 and 8210, collectively up making “the monster building”.

The City approved the R1 billion 18-storey development in Buitengracht Street, which will include more than 200 apartments and three basement levels of parking.

This proposal was met with massive resistance from both the people of the Bo-Kaap as well as supporters from around Cape Town with more than 1 200 individual objections being logged.

The residents said 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.

They said they viewed this case as having a potential domino effect. If allowed to go ahead they said it paves the way as precedent for a wall of 60m high-income developments to be built along Buitengracht Street, effectively cutting off the Bo-Kaap from the city, thus reinforcing the buffer zone mentality of apartheid spatial planning.

BKCRA said in a statement: “We know that this will be a building for the wealthy few and we ask how many more people will be displaced and economically forced out of the Bo-Kaap by this building as the rates continue to rise? Economic apartheid is on the rise all over Cape Town, and in approving this 18-storey building on the sly, without gaining community comment and in the midst of the widely publicised Heritage Protection Overlay Zone, the City has once again shown that it is anti-poor, anti-communities and anti-heritage.”

The City argued that the applicants challenged every aspect of the City’s decision-making and the processes followed and the court found no merit in any of those challenges.

Fowzia Achmat, deputy chairperson of the BKCRA, said because of the nationwide lockdown, they haven’t been able to discuss the ruling properly. She said they will, however, do their own investigation and look for a way forward on the matter.