Ratepayers ready to halt beachfront development

The Place on the Bay site, which could be at the centre of a court case.

The Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA) is prepared to go to court to oppose a proposed hotel development in Camps Bay

The site in question is Erf 3349 on Victoria Road, where the Place of the Bay hotel once stood. It is being demolished to make way for a five-star hotel designed by Scott and Partners, led by founder and principal architect Greg Scott.

According to the CBCRA, their legal team is preparing papers to challenge this development.

The chairman of the CBCRA, Chris Willemse, notes that the special regulations for Camps Bay are three storeys and a 10m façade height, and that the developer applied for a variance to provide only 58 parking bays instead of the required 120.

“He (Greg Scott) claims that his plans comply but that is only because the City of Cape Town has granted massive departures to allow a building that is almost 160% larger than allowed by the special planning conditions pertaining to Camps Bay,” said Mr Willemse.

“ It is claimed that the new building is no higher than the old Place on the Bay (POB). Given that the POB had an illegal fourth floor (and therefore height), this is an interesting departure point: Relying on previous illegal work to justify non-conformity with the current regulations of three storeys and 10m height restrictions. Further, he has ‘overcome’ the 10m restriction on the Fairways side of the building by introducing a 1m ‘step’ in the façade and thereby claiming two façades, totalling almost 15m in height (ie each ‘façade’ not higher than 10m).

“There is no provision in the regulations to split a façade in this manner, just a ploy by the City planners to assist with a non-compliant building application. In any event, it will present as a 15m building from the street, which is obviously unacceptable,” Mr Willemse said.

However, the City’s deputy mayor and mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, Eddie Andrews, says a departure was granted.

“A departure was granted to allow for a five-storey building in lieu of a three-storey building. The building complies with the 10m façade height limit,” said Mr Andrews.

Mr Andrews adds that the 98 rooms require 49 bays and 50 parking bays are being proposed.

“It is correct that the mayor’s (Geordin Hill-Lewis) decision was to refuse the parking departure which was from 58 bays in lieu of 120 parking bays. The parking departure was from the requirements of the 2017 Municipal Planning By-Law which required 0.75bays/room plus 20 bays. The building plan that was approved is parking compliant in terms of the 2019 Municipal Planning By-Laws which require 0.5bays/room. The change in the Municipal Planning By-law affecting the entire city resulted in a change in the parking requirements,” he said.

Mr Willemse points out that they have yet to see a National Environmental Management Act application or approval.

Mr Scott, on the other hand, claims that all of the plans are compliant and that the approvals were obtained as part of a five-year process under the City’s Land Use Management and Building Plan approval process.

“The approved building envelope is no higher than the existing building that was there the NEMA approval was obtained right at the beginning of the application process in 2017; it is one of the first things we did,” he said.

He goes on to say that the images of the proposed building that have been circulated on social media are not accurate representations of what the actual hotel will look like.

“We are hopeful completion will be achieved in quarter three of 2024 and that the hotel will be open to guests in quarter four of 2024. We refined the design from what is being shown to a new design – this was done as a condition of approval and in extensive consultation with the City officials and urban designers,” Mr Scott said.

More than 90 residents have objected to the proposed development, according to Mr Willemse, who believes the site offers an opportunity to create a building that is appropriate for the area and could be iconic to the beachfront.

A view of Camps Bay, the mountain and the rubble.