Developer’s appeal dismissed

An artisits impression of the proposed development

The Bo-Kaap community has welcomed the decision by Heritage Western Cape (HWC) to dismiss an appeal for a development in the area.

The developer, Any Side Investment, appealed a decision by the HWC in December last year, where the Built Environment and Landscape Committee did not approve their proposal of a significant amendment to a set of plans that were given the go-ahead in 2007. The developer was hoping to amend some of the conditions that formed part of the 2007 record of decision.

The proposed development is a nine-storey mixed-use development next to the historic Auwal Mosque on Buitengracht Street. It includes retail and short-term rentals with five parking bays. Residents were concerned that the development would tower over the surrounding buildings and was out of character with historic Bo-Kaap buildings. The HWC appeals committee felt that the proposal was insensitive to the heritage context of Bo-Kaap.

According to the secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA), Jacky Poking, they opposed the appeal and argued that the HWC acted lawfully and fairly when refusing the amended plans.

The association’s advocate Winston Erasmus argued that Any Side Investments allegedly used bullying tactics by threatening to build in this manner. He stated that the development would infringe on the community’s constitutional rights and have a negative impact.

The director of Any Side Investments, Zane De Decker, told Cape Times that an anti-development sentiment had been growing in the city, with approximately R30 billion in developments currently being “held up” by bodies like HWC.

“We were of course shocked and disappointed that the committee members of HWC would choose the old scheme over the new. It is clear that we are operating in a politically-charged environment,” he said.

“This a great victory for Bo-Kaap. We thank Advocate Erasmus for representing us so eloquently and fiercely. We thank all our supporters near and far who kept us in prayers,” Ms Poking said.

She continued: “We couldn’t have done this alone. This is a victory we share with all of you.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, February 25, the Bo-Kaap community was back in court fighting the interdict brought by the developer, Blok.

Last year, Blok sought an interdict against the entire Bo-Kaap community to prevent it from protesting against the delivery of a crane to its construction site in Lion Street. This caused havoc in November last year when residents clashed with the police (“Chaos as Bo-Kaap residents block crane,” Atlantic Sun, November 22). Five residents were arrested for contempt of the interdict order and a traffic offence – blocking a road.

Last week, Blok served papers on nine protesters, including the five who were arrested last year.

Chairperson of the BKCRA, Os-
man Shaboodien, said this was a clear attempt to intimidate and silence the voices of Bo-Kaap who are speaking up against Blok developers.

Mr Shaboodien said: “This is part of their ‘Strategic Litigation Against Peaceful Protestors’ (SLAPP). These SLAPP lawsuits are common legal mechanisms brought by capitalist developers against community activists from historically disadvantaged communities who oppose their exploitative, extractive and insensitive developments.”

The matter has been postponed to Monday June 10.