Legal fight ‘not yet over’

2018-10-23 06:02

Despite the City of Cape Town withdrawing its opposition to a review application brought against the Maiden’s Cove sale, the fight is far from over, the litigants say.

A tender worth around R1bn for the development of the Clifton precinct – the land between the Clifton bungalows and Camps Bay – was awarded last year to K2015298271 South Africa (Pty) Ltd, by the City of Cape Town (“Tender set to rejuvenate area”, People’s Post, 10 October).

In April, the Bungalow Owners’ Association (BOA) filed an application in the Western Cape High Court, 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.

The association hopes to overturn the City’s decision to sell and develop the Maiden’s Cove site and the Clifton Scenic Reserve in particular.

BOA spokesperson, Richard Summers, previously told People’s Post (“Court action over coastal tender”, 4 September) that the association is concerned with the conservation of the “site’s heritage status”.

“The Maiden’s Cove has been recognised as a protected area for 70 years because of its outstanding scenic value. Unless it is protected, it will be lost for posterity.”

In September, the Cape High Court granted Maiden’s Cove for All (MCA) the right to intervene in the case. The MCA is asking for a comprehensive remedy that would force the City to involve the public right from the beginning in a new process to decide how Maiden’s Cove should be used.

However, despite initially opposing the application, the City has since done an about-face.

“To date, the City has opposed the review application. The application is against a proposed development at Maiden’s Cove, as the Clifton precinct is also known,” the City says in a statement.

“However, 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.

“The City has subsequently, and after consulting senior counsel, decided against opposing the review application. The effect will be that the review application will proceed unopposed by the City.”

MCA representative Janey Ball explains that the legal action is “not over yet”. While the City may no longer be opposing the application, there are still other opposition parties­.

MCA chair Vanessa September adds : “We are thrilled that the City Town has thrown in the towel before more citizens’ money and time was wasted on this ludicrous project. 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. Our public open spaces are precious.”

Summer believes the withdrawal is a “watershed moment in case”.

“Given the reasons informing the City’s withdrawal of its opposition, 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 BOA’s application. The City’s volte-face is obviously highly significant, but it remains to be seen whether the developer will continue to challenge the applicants’ case.

Ball adds: “The City’s withdrawal of its opposition to the application means that the matter will be set down for hearing in the Western Cape High Court, on an unopposed basis. A judge of this court will in due course make an order which will dispose of the matter. Further papers, as may be required, will be filed in accordance with the court’s directives and/or the relevant Rules of Court.”

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