Objection to hotel upgrade

The City of Cape Town Municipal Planning Tribunal approved developments in Camps Bay.

The Place on the Bay hotel in Camps Bay could be further developed – a move that some locals are not happy about.

The City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) approved an application from the developer, through town planner, Tommy Brummer Town Planners, for rezoning, consolidation, departures and deletion of title deeds for two adjacent properties at no
4 The Fairway.

The site in question currently has a hotel and the developer plans for a five-storey development consisting of 101 bedrooms, a restaurant and 58 parking bays.

The applicant said the development will enhance the existing land uses along Victoria Road, thus revitalising the activity in the area and that Camps Bay was known as a tourism asset and this luxury hotel would support the tourist economy.

The applicant added that the proposed restaurant would activate “current dead façades” along street boundaries and property values would be enhanced.

However, Camps Bay residents objected to the proposal, claiming that it would have a major impact on the surrounding properties. The Camps Bay and Clifton Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRRA) said this application is of such an arbitrary nature that there can be no coherent basis for it in law or City policy.

“It is merely an attempt to subvert the right of property owners and the Development Management Scheme of the Municipal Planning By-Law to the extent that such regulations serve no other purpose other than to be ignored in the financial favour of the developer.”

CBCRRA, with more than 90 residents, said the area would not cope with the amount of traffic that such a development would generate. They said the application failed on the parking issue and a study would have to be done with the traffic one. “It will, no doubt, be argued that most guests to hotels use e-hailing services and that therefore there is little actual on-site parking required. This is an anecdotal argument, not backed up by any meaningful research,” they said.

Another resident, Irene Choriz, who lives 50 metres from this property, said Victoria Road already has a number of restaurants and bars which appear to be successful in summer but struggle in winter. “These sites offer entertainment services to tourists but draw a bad element which is getting worse and worse,” she said.

She said such developments attract party-goers and late night drinking to the area which is noisy and dangerous for residents. “Often young adults are drinking in their cars. The area is not adequately policed and this would only make the problem worse,” she said.

Meanwhile, the MPT has also approved an application to subdivide a property and have two dwellings on each portion on 96 Camps Bay Drive. This matter dates back to 2017 when the City approved an application for a four unit block of flats. Residents objected to the application and the matter went to the high court.

CBCRRA filed an application to have it reviewed and set aside a decision by the City to remove title deed restrictions applicable to 96 Camps Bay Drive and approve plans for a block of four apartments. The court ruled in favour of the application by the ratepayers (“Court rules against City,” Atlantic Sun, June 21, 2018).

The argument from the City and the MPT was that all case law protecting property rights fell away with the new laws and that they had total discretionary powers in deciding such matters. CBCRRA disagreed, they claimed that MPT had rejected all the objections from the CBCRRA and surrounding neighbours, and approved the development.

Commenting on the latest decision by the MPT, the CBRRA’s chairman, Chris Willemse, said they were disappointed at the MPT’s decisions taken at its meetings last week, regarding the 101-room hotel on the beachfront and the application for FOUR units at 96 Camps Bay Drive.

“Without going into detail, as both decisions will be appealed to the mayor, such decisions should be of great concern to all ratepayers in Cape Town. It is abundantly clear that the ‘development at all costs’ policies of the DA-led City – and which is so profitable for it – is quickly destroying the very fabric of communities. The desecration of the Bo-Kaap and the insanity of developing the Philippi Horticultural Area are two very obvious examples of how the development industry is favoured, by the City, above all else that is sensible or appropriate. The financial benefits to both the City and the development industry are plainly obvious,” CBCRRA said.

They said in the current Camps Bay example of the hotel, no community benefit was shown for the “101 shoebox-size rooms”, other than it would benefit the developer.

They said there were 92 letters of objection to this application and many valid objections were raised, such as the traffic impact, but merely ignored. They said the only small mercy shown is that the MPT has referred the completely overpowering, glass-fronted, street façade back for design consideration. “However, it is difficult to understand how a five-storey façade is acceptable in place of the permitted three-storey but that will be part of the subject of the appeal,”CBCRRA said.

“Despite a high court case that cost the City millions of rand of ratepayers’ hard-earned money due to its abysmal handling of the previous application regarding 96 Camps Bay Drive, the City was again at the forefront of supporting and approving a development that holds no benefit for the community. The CBCRA supports sensible development and, within bounds, subscribes to the City’s Densification Policy, which advocates a second dwelling (at most) in single-dwelling areas.

“However, this appears not to satisfy either the City or the development industry, who support massive densification and, at the same time, trample on property owners’ very real rights in law and under the Constitution,” said the CBCRRA.