Rezoning application granted in Constantia

2016-12-14 11:58
The chambers were full to capacity as people awaited the decision from the tribunal after an application that was made by the Solomon family trust to have a shopping centre on the piece of land that was taken away from them.

The chambers were full to capacity as people awaited the decision from the tribunal after an application that was made by the Solomon family trust to have a shopping centre on the piece of land that was taken away from them. (Tiyese Jeranji)

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The Municipal Planning Tribunal south western panel yesterday (13 December) approved an application for rezoning and consolidation of two plots on Ladies Mile 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 re-zone 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, was 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 like 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 who still long to go back to the land. They always ask when are we going to cut back the vines. For them the last memory they have is the vines that were at the 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 other relevant considerations into account. 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 over-serviced 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 which is to be inclusive, caring and to give opportunity. We believe that this application will be a catalyst in unlocking the full potential of the site.”

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