Paving the way for R250m mall

2016-12-20 06:01
The Solomon family and other supporters wait in anticipation to hear the decision of the tribunal following their application to build a shopping complex on the land that was recently given back to them. The land was taken away from them during the group areas act. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

The Solomon family and other supporters wait in anticipation to hear the decision of the tribunal following their application to build a shopping complex on the land that was recently given back to them. The land was taken away from them during the group areas act. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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The Municipal Planning Tribunal south-western panel approved an application for rezoning and consolidation of two plots on Ladies Mile last Tuesday, paving the way for a R250 million shopping complex.

While the decision came as music to the ears of the Solomon family who owns the land, local residents are considering an appeal.

Following the decision the land is to be rezoned from utility to general business – to allow a retail development – and to approve the site development plan (SDP).

The motivation in the application states the shopping complex will create 150 jobs during construction and 350 when fully operational.

The capital investment is about R250m.

The land, erven 13707 and 13708, used to be a farm owned by the Solomon family for 65 years until they were forcefully removed under the Group Areas Act. They had originally purchased the land in 1902 and developed a mix of business activities on the property, including dairy farming and a butchery.

The Solomon family said in response to the tribunal’s decision they can now finally move on with their lives.

“This is good news to our uncle and aunt who are bedridden and still long to go back to the land. They always ask when are we going to cut the vines. For them the last memory they have is the vines that were at what is now Constantia Village,” Ahmad Solomon said on behalf of the family.

“We are happy with the news that we received today as it brings closure for them and it allows us to move on as a family. It’s been a long journey. There were so many meetings we had to sit in and you could feel the hurt as they spoke about how the land was taken away from them. Having the land back will allow us to move on.”

The Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) have been opposing the shopping complex since the start.

Yvonne Leibman, the CRRA’ss attorney, says they are disappointed by the decision and they will consider appealing it since the planner’s report does not comply with the City’s own policy documents and legislative framework which are in conflict with the application.

“The report also fails to take into account other relevant considerations. Indeed, it is submitted that the report lacks integrity. The CRRA reiterates its support for the land restitution and supports the owners’ endeavours to obtain enhanced use rights. The site’s history of dispossession can however not be used to motivate for a disregard of planning policy.”

Part of the objection submitted by the CRRA was that the centre will bring traffic congestion and will have an environmental impact. Other residents stated that the area is already overserviced with business and retail families.

David Daniels, chairperson of the tribunal, said he cannot find any faults with the application. “If we look at the area now, it’s derelict and the sooner we get to work there, the better. The application aligns with the pillars of the City – inclusive, caring and giving opportunity. We believe that this application will be a catalyst in unlocking the full potential of the site.”

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