Reckless approvals

Mark Jackson, Cape Town City Bowl

It’s sad to read C Deane’s letter, “Concrete jungle in the making”, but I don’t think appealing to the council for action will help one bit (Atlantic Sun letters, September 1), because in 2014, it was the DA and mayor Patricia de Lille, as part of their “red tape to red carpet” initiative to embrace developers, who trashed so many of the established council safeguards that helped Cape Town be such a world-class city.

Before 2014, developers had to make applications to a sub-council, and then to the Spatial Planning, Environment and Land Use Management Committee (SPELUM), where the City’s spatial and environmental planning experts would oversee things. And then to a planning appeals committee. The mayor had final say, but that was hardly ever invoked. So everything was examined by many highly-specialised experts.

Now, no more sub-council, and Spelum experts have no final say, and the appeals committee has been replaced by a tribunal, staffed by members all appointed by the mayor. And no input from residents’ associations. The tribunal seems to comprise people who make a living from building and developing. So guess who’s side they favour? Developers are having a ball, at our expense.

Sidelining the experts, like this DA has done, is sheer recklessness. No wonder a building collapsed in De Waterkant.

All final decisions and appeals get passed by Ms De Lille. We suspect she is “making sacrifices for the greater good”, by turning a blind eye to question-able developments, in order to get maximum money into the City and DA coffers.

Surely Ms De Lille is too busy to properly apply her mind to objections and appeals?

This was a process previously handled by committees. How is it possible Ms De Lille can now do this all on her own?

We really need urgent reform at the City council, now. Bring back the sub-councils, and give back the teeth to Spelum, the real experts. And let the planning tribunal be staffed by retirees only – or how else can we ensure honesty?

In the meantime, every move by Ms De Lille and her Mayco must be scrutinised; every decision held to account, because our Cape Town, with their blessings, is fast becoming gridlocked, public spaces lost, sewage systems overflowing and heritage buildings razed. Wake up. Our city is being captured by a few selfish, reckless developers, who care only for their bottom line, and not for the greater good of Cape Town and all its citizens.

And I would urge concerned readers to join our page on SaveCapeTown.