Tribunal lashed

Camps Bay residents are considering legal action against the City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal.

This comes after a recent decision by the tribunal relating to title deeds on a property in the suburb.

The Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA) says there is a lack of transparency when it comes to decision-making by the tribunal.

This is not the first time a decision made by the tribunal, established in 2015, has been met with criticism.

CBCRA chair Chris Willemse said they had instructed the association’s legal team to consider the merits of bringing an application before the Western Cape High Court to review, and have set aside the decision.

Mr Willemse said the owner had applied to have the property rezoned from single residential, to allow multiple units to be built on the property. He did not want to divulge the address of the property.

“It is common cause among all civic groupings in Cape Town that the DA-led City panders to the development industry and that the relationship is certainly not in the interests of property owners and ratepayers in the city.”

Mr Willemse also accused the tribunal and the City of favouring big developers when it came to making decisions. “The City argues that it cannot control the influx of people into the city, which is true. However, the emphasis on allowing huge upmarket developments, which result in rich pickings for the development industry, only puts additional stress on the already strained supply system (water, roads etc) without really dealing with the actual housing problems on the ground.

“Of course, upmarket development is where the money is – so there one finds the politicians and their fellow travellers.”

Mr Willemse said that the title deed conditions of a property were considered as real rights and therefore could not be removed without due process or compensation.

Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association, said he fully supported the actions taken by the CBCRA. He agreed with Mr Willemse that decisions made by the tribunal favoured developers rather than residents.

He added that the BKCRA had been before the tribunal three times recently and that all decisions had gone against the people of Cape Town. “The biggest challenge that we have with the tribunal is that it is a biased body. It is all about a push to further the coffers.”

Mr Shaboodien also suggested that the Public Protector investigate the tribunal. “All of the decisions were stacked against the people of Cape Town. It is time that the people of Cape Town stand together and take a stand.”

He said decisions needed to be made neutral and benefit all people in Cape Town and not just a wealthy minority.

Dave Daniels, chairperson of the Municipal Planning Tribunal, welcomed any action by the CBCRA, adding that the association was fully within its rights to challenge any decision of the tribunal – via an appeal, or if that fails, in a court of law. “I support such applications because these assist to ensure that the tribunal makes decisions that are not only fair, but also legally sound.”

Mr Daniels added that all objections into a matter bought before the tribunal were taken into account. “When the tribunal decides against an objection it does not mean that objections were not taken cognisance of.

“The tribunal has refused a number of applications based, among others, on the reasonableness of objections made against applications.”

The tribunal meets every Tuesday at 10am and meetings are open to the public. “Any member of the media and the public is welcome to attend the meetings and then judge for themselves whether we conduct our business in a fair manner.”