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Monday Apr 16, 2018

Property owners contest Clifton land sale

The City of Cape Town's controversial R1 billion sale of land between Clifton and Camps Bay to private developers has been thrust into the spotlight again following a court application in the Cape High Court this week.

The Bungalow Owners Association brought the matter to court to set aside the sale of five hectares of land by the City of Cape Town to a consortium called K2015298271 South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

The City awarded the consortium the sale last September, saying the development would improve "public access to the beach, ocean and recreational facilities as well as protect the natural vegetation, enhance tourism potential and unlock investment to drive job creation".

However, the applicants, which include well-known celebrity divorce and criminal attorney Billy Gundelfinger, who owns a bungalow in Clifton and is a committee member of the association together with two prominent businessmen, Mark Willcox and Gavin Varejes, claim the proposed development will do the opposite.

In their 465-page court application, the applicants and their supporters charge the development was not in the interest of the residents and that the decision by the City to sell and lease the site and embark on the Clifton Precinct Upgrade development "completely ignores and flies in the face of the site's protected status".

The sale took place despite the Maiden's Cove site being part of the Clifton Scenic Reserve.

It is a protected provincial heritage site in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 1999, which was declared as such in 1947, the papers read.

According to the applicants, the site's protection, as part of the Clifton Scenic Reserve, dated to 1949 and was first proclaimed as a monument due to its "outstanding scenic value' with the express purpose of "safeguarding the site from future development".

The purpose behind its protection included preventing the site from being "built over and lost to posterity", the court papers read.

The consortium includes Vunani Mion Properties, whose directors are Ethan Dube and Neil Anderson.

The developers intend building a 100-room hotel in the parking lot of Fourth Beach; 750 garages under the bowling greens at the Glen Country Club; 178 apartments in Maidens Cove; 54 bungalows on the Clifton tennis court site and a field in front of the bungalow restaurant; a commercial development of shops and restaurants; and a 3m boardwalk from Camps Bay over the rocks, across the path in front of all the Glenbeach Bungalows.

The boardwalk would wrap around the property of Christo Wiese, the former director of embattled retailer Steinhoff.

Nele Vermaak, the chairperson of the Bungalow Owners Association, said the association had about 170 members, all of whom owned or lived in the Clifton, Glen Beach and Bakoven areas.

"The association's main objectives were the conservation of the unique character of the bungalows located in Clifton, Glen Beach and Bakoven, conservation of the environment (including the land and sea) and the heritage associated with it, and compliance legislation," she said.

Priya Reddy, City of Cape Town spokesperson, said: "The review application is being perused by the City.

"Seeing that this matter is before the Western Cape High Court, the City will not comment until the case has been finalised."

Seven respondents have been cited - including the Minister of Environment Affairs, Heritage Western Cape and the SA Heritage Resources Agency - by lawyer Richard Summers, representing the litigants.

The public land sold includes :

  • the Glen Country Club, including the bowling greens;

  • club house,

  • free public parking space on Fourth Beach,

  • the parking garages which the City leases to residents of Clifton Tennis courts,

  • St Gabriel's Church (built in 1926),

  • the old restaurant site,

  • the Clifton Scout Hall,

  • public toilets,

  • a cricket oval,

  • the Maidens Cove picnic and recreation area

  • and the Bungalow restaurant site.

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