“Our public open spaces are precious. They should not be sold off to the highest bidder. Any development should fully respect the area’s heritage status and be for the benefit all the people of our city, not just to make a few rich people richer.”
So said the chairperson of Maiden’s Cove for All (MCA), Vanessa September, following the City of Cape Town’s withdrawal to oppose the Maiden’s Cove review application.
The application was filed by the Bungalow Owners’ Association (BOA) and Others asking the court to review and set aside the City’s decision to sell and lease the City-owned land between the Clifton bungalows and Camps Bay.
MCA is a non-profit organisation that was established in June this year to represent the broader Cape Town community in protecting and ensuring continued access for all to the public open space.
The office of the City’s mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, Stuart Diamond, released a statement on Friday October 12 announcing its withdrawal to oppose the review application brought by a number of litigants in the High Court.
Until this past Friday, the City had opposed the review application. The statement said the City had subsequently, and after consulting senior counsel, decided against opposing the review application, which means it will proceed unopposed by the City.
“Over the past months, we have taken note of the concerns raised by residents, non-profit organisations, and others. These concerns relate to the impact the proposed development could have on Maiden’s Cove, and how it could affect those who frequently visit the area. We have heard their pleas, read their letters and opinion pieces, and reflected on their arguments,” read the statement.
The BOA has recently served a court order on the City and other respondents, compelling them to file their answering affidavits on or before Wednesday October 24.
In its application, the BOA was joined by MCA. The organisation aimed to stop the proposed development and wanted a public participation process where the City would include the voices of those who use the space.
MCA has welcomed the news and said they would be happy to liaise with the City on developing a democratic and community-friendly way of inviting active public involvement in relation to how Maiden’s Cove and similar areas could be improved.
“We are thrilled that the City has thrown in the towel before more citizens money and time were wasted on this ludicrous project,” said Ms September.
“There are some things that money can’t buy. One of them is the determination of ordinary people who have frequented the area for decades, not to forego their right to greater, not lesser, access to the sea.”
The chairperson for the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA), Chris Willemse, said they were pleased with the City’s decision.
Mr Willemse said the community of Camps Bay and Clifton was grateful to the BOA and MCA for taking the matter to court.
“However, the City pulling out of the matter doesn’t stop the developer. If the City is to be taken seriously in consulting communities, they’d need to put the decision to sell the land on review and have it set aside by the court, otherwise, if they don’t do that, this would be a political step ahead of elections,” he said.
Richard Summers, the attorney representing BOA, said: “This is a watershed moment in the conduct of this case.
“Given the reasons informing the City’s withdrawal, the BOA – and the other Applicants – are cautiously optimistic regarding a positive outcome of this case. The fact remains that the entity to which the tender was awarded by the City is still on record as opposing the application. The entity in question K2015298271 South Africa (Pty) Ltd is due to file answering affidavits on or before October 24. Although the City’s volte-face is highly significant for the merits of the case, it remains to be seen whether the developer will follow suit.”