In August 2015, the CPOA attended a presentation by the owners (represented by Mr Rashaad Solomon), Shoprite Checkers Property Division and members of their project professional team.
Firstly, it is important to define the property in question as it is not the entire site bounded by the M3, Ladies Mile, Spaanschemat River Rd and Kendal Road (i.e. erf 4724). It is limited to erven 13707 and 13708, together comprising a trapezoidal shaped land portion of approximately 1,5 hectares between the traffic lights and the M3 – around 20% of the whole site.
Rashaad gave an overview of the history of the property which the Solomon family purchased in 1902. They farmed vegetables and grapes for both local consumption and export. The property was considered to be Constantia’s commercial hub and there were 3 farm stalls (fresh produce, butter and a diary) where other farmers (of all races) sold their produce and bought provisions. The family were forced to leave the property in the 1960’s under the Group Areas Act.
Having been awarded the property in a protracted land restitution claim process, the family is keen to “bring back what was there”, although obviously farming is not a viable proposition. The Land Claims Commissioner required a business plan from the claimants as part of the Settlement Agreement. Thus the vision for the entire site, including another portion east of the M3, is for a mixed use development including residential and public open spaces which can be cross subsidized with some commercial and retail components.
The proposal for the first portion is for an ‘upmarket’ retail centre comprising a flagship Checkers on the M3 side and signature buildings on the Ladies Mile side including restaurants and convenience shops. A basement will cover the entire site to accommodate parking, services, storage and loading. The intention is to create an ‘open environment’ with low level walling, landscaping and lighting will be ‘low intensity’. Checkers will have a trading space of approximately 2900 m², and the total development is approximately 9850m² including basement parking etc.
A lot of thought has gone into dealing with site access/traffic and the planners have discussed the possibility of a traffic circle at the Ladies Mile/Spaanschemat River Rd intersection with the City.
The application process has commenced, with application having been submitted to Heritage Western Cape, the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the City of Cape Town – the Application Pre-Consultation Phase has been concluded with the City.
The application process has commenced, with applications having been submitted to Heritage Western Cape, the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the City of Cape Town – The Application Pre-Consultation Phase has been concluded with the City.
Subsequent to finalisation and formal acceptance of the Land Use Application by the City, the application will be advertised in terms of a public participation programme whereby the public will be afforded the opportunity to comment on the proposed development.
Last year the CPOA reported to members that the Association had launched a High Court Application in November 2014 for the review and setting aside of a decision taken by the Council of the City of Cape Town in April 2014, whereby an application for the rezoning and subdivision of the historic Glen Dirk Farm was approved for purposes of residential development. Glen Dirk farm has been recognised by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHARA) as a heritage resource of national significance.
The subdivision and rezoning application was considered by all the City’s specialist departments and in each instance these departments, including Environmental and Heritage Management, recommended against approval. The reason were that
- the application is not consistent with any of the City’s own approved policies.
- Glen Dirk Farm is integral to one of the most significant agricultural anchors in the Constantia-Tokai Valley, and
- subdivision would not only reduce arable farmland, but would have a negative impact on the character of the Valley.
The City’s specialist departments also commented that the alienation of portions of the farm to make the remainder viable cannot be used as an argument for the application and also that the alienation of portions of the farm is against the “public good”. Notwithstanding that, Glen Dirk farm is identified by SAHRA as having the highest possible resource grading (Grade1 – meaning it is of national significance)
Despite the recommendation of the City’s own specialist departments against approval as well as strong arguments by this Association, the Council of the City approved the application in its entirety after the Mayoral Committee and the Executive Mayor had made a recommendation for approval.
This Association’s High Court application was opposed by the City of Cape Town and the owners of Glen Dirk farm. There were lengthy delays in the High Court proceedings because the City did not adhere to the Rules of the Court. The owners of Glen Dirk farm also launched a counter-application against this Association’s Executive Committee (Exco) members with the intention of holding them jointly and severally liable for costs.
We are now delighted to report to our members that after we recently launched an interim application to compel the City to file its answering papers, the City withdrew its opposition to our High Court application and tendered to pay our costs. The owners of Glen Dirk farm have also withdrawn their opposition and their counter- application against our ExCo members.
This Association’s decision to institute High Court proceedings to have the irrational decision of the council of the City set aside and our pursuit of these proceeding against resistance from the City and even after the owners of Glen Dirk launched a counter-application against our ExCo members, has now been completely vindicated by the collapse of the City and the owners of Glen Dirk farm in their opposition to our application.
Our members can be insured that this Association will continue to work tirelessly towards the conservation of the historic farms in the Constantia-Tokai Valley and to prevent at all costs their subdivision for residential development.
Information from: Constantia Ratepayers Residents Association (CRRA)