Restoring a ‘legacy’

2018-08-14 06:01
Construction work proceeds at the former Sillery Farm, also known as the Ladies Mile drop-off site.PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Construction work proceeds at the former Sillery Farm, also known as the Ladies Mile drop-off site.PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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The first phase of the development at the old Ladies Mile drop-off site has started.

It reportedly aims to restore the “legacy of the Solomon family”.

According to Rashaad Solomon, chairperson of the Hadji Abdullah Solomon Family Trust, which owns the land, the development will create the feel of a mixed commercial and residential area at the standard of the local community.

Development started almost two years after the City of Cape Town approved an application for the rezoning and consolidation of two plots (“Rezoning application granted in Constantia”, People’s Post, 14 December).

The development comprises a permanent departure point to permit parking bays and a shopping centre. The first phase is at basement level.

Solomon would not divulge any particular details about the development as there is a lot of controversy around it. He says people failed to understand the reasons for the development and the psychological effect the dispute over the site has on the family.

He refers to a pending case by the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association which reportedly opposes the establishment of a shopping mall in Constantia. The development started before the case could be finalised.

Solomon says nothing will ever justify the damage his family experienced during the 1966 forced removals under the Group Areas Act. However, they will do the best they can to continue the legacy his grandparents and parents wanted for the Solomon family.

“This place used to be a commercial farm (Sillery) and my family was very close to the people living in the area back then, and by so doing we are honouring the history of our family. I do not understand what could be so wrong about this. If the land is lawfully ours and all the channels were followed, what is stopping us from doing what we think is the best not just for us, but the poor communities that have a history in Constantia?”

Solomon says there were 32 houses on the farm and there are 84 claimants now who will be returning to their homeland upon the completion of the development.

Mayco member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, says the developer commenced with site establishment work as per the provisional authorisation approval.

Herron says the authorisation approval allows the developer to establish the site for the excavation and erection of the basement and retaining structures.

“It is important to note that the decisions of the Municipal Planning Tribunal and the executive mayor as the appeal authority remain valid until such time as the high court has ruled otherwise. The City is obliged to process the said building plan application in terms of the applicable legislation. Thus, to make it clear, we cannot delay the processing of this application until such time as the court has made a ruling.”

John Hesom, the CRRA manager says the development was authorized without following the normal public participation process which is the Heritage Impact Assessment.

He however, says the Solomon family give a good summary of the history of the site, “however they did not follow through with their stated aspirations”. “The CRRA did not have an opportunity to comment on an Heritage Impact Assessment,” says Hesom.

He explains that the CRRA supported restitution of the property to its rightful owners. However, he says the proposed development model is based on generating income instead of a plan based on adherence to policies of the City.

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