ConCourt to decide on Ramsgate sea views

2014-02-05 00:00

TEN years after construction of a prime sea-facing apartment block was stopped, there is still no end in sight to a dispute between two Ramsgate businesspeople over one’s view of the sea.

Construction of the Pearls Investments block of flats was stopped in 2004 after Trevor Turnbull-Jackson, owner of the Beachcomber Bay Guesthouse, laid a complaint against the Hibiscus Coast municipality’s approval of the building plans.

Turnbull-Jackson submitted that the apartment block would obstruct his view of the Indian Ocean, spoil the environment, would be unsightly and devalue his property by up to 30%.

He approached the Constitutional Court to hear the matter after the high court in Pietermaritzburg rejected his complaints, and permission to appeal this finding was denied by the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein.

His lawyer, Advocate Natalie Lange, submitted that the municipal official who had approved the building plans, one Van der Walt, had been prejudiced against Turnbull-Jackson in approving a third set of building plans in 2007.

According to Lange, Turnbull-Jackson had made harsh remarks about Van der Walt — having called him “corrupt and inefficient”.

It was also said that Van der Walt had a close, unhealthy relationship with Pearl Star, whose building plans he also approved in 2004 and 2005, but which were amended when Turnbull-Jackson proceeded with legal action.

Lange said Van der Walt should have recused himself from the process and that the building plans should have been considered by an impartial person in 2007.

Advocate Anna Annandale, for the municipality, said Van der Walt had been the only municipal employer qualified to make such a decision. “This is a small municipality on the south coast. To get someone else would have meant the municipality contracting an outsider,” she said.

According to Annandale, Van der Walt did not merely rubber-stamp the application, but had considered it thoroughly.

Advocate Ernest Crots said on behalf of Pearl Star that Turnbull-Jackson would still retain “an excellent sea view to the south and to the west” should the development continue.

“Both Pearl Star and Turnbull-Jackson utilise their properties for commercial purposes and both are in the same position,” he submitted.

Judge Dikgang Moseneke said the Constitutional Court has an obligation to end the ten-year long legal battle , and to protect the public from staring at “the hideous incompleted construction”.

Judgment has been reserved.

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