Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato to decide fate of controversial redevelopment of River Club

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River Club redevelopment artistic impression.
River Club redevelopment artistic impression.
PHOTO: Supplied
  • The redevelopment of the River Club in Cape Town has drawn heavy criticism from ratepayers' associations and civic groups.
  • Their biggest concern is that the development will take place on a 100-year flood line and historical Khoi land.
  • The project includes mixed-use development, with residential apartments and offices. Online retailer, Amazon, will be the anchor tenant.

Mayor Dan Plato is expected to make a final decision on the fate of the redevelopment of the River Club in Observatory, Cape Town.

This comes after interested parties appealed against the Municipal Planning Tribunal's approval of the controversial development.

The project, which is expected to cost R4 billion, consists of a mixed-use development with residential apartments and offices, and online retailer Amazon is expected to be the anchor tenant.

Planning Appeal Advisory Panel chairperson Ian Neilson told News24 that several parties appealed the tribunal's decision to approve the proposed development.

River Club redevelopment artistic impression
River Club redevelopment artistic impression.

"The Planning Appeal Advisory Panel conducted detailed interviews with appellants and the applicant on Wednesday. The panel will make a recommendation to the executive mayor, who is the appeal authority in terms of the City's municipal planning by-law, in due course. The decision of the mayor will be communicated once it has been finalised."

READ MORE | Redevelopment opposed

The redevelopment has drawn heavy criticism from ratepayers' associations. Civic groups have also lodged appeals with the tribunal, which gave the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) the green light to develop the site.

The biggest concern cited is that the development will take place on a 100-year flood line and historical Khoi land. Among some of the interested parties are Ndifuna Ukwazi, the Pinelands Ratepayers and Residents Association and the Goringhaicona Khoena Council.

Ndifuna Ukwazi attorney Jonty Cogger said: 

The original development proposal did not include any tangible representation or memorialisation of Khoi and San heritage, concluding that no bones or artefacts could be found to signify its heritage significance. The developer's position is that no tangible cultural heritage manifests from the ground. It concluded that the significance of the site rather comes from the general history of colonialism, which cannot directly be attributed to the exact site in question.

READ | Tribunal slams province and City of Cape Town over River Club mega-development processes

Goringhaicona Khoena Council supreme high commissioner Tauriq Jenkins said: 

We say no to the concrete on the floodplain, to infill of the river, to the loss of memory to a mall with hotels. We will not bid the kingfisher farewell. We say no [to] the violence against nature, to the violence of apartheid spatial planning, to the violence of the false claim that this is all done with the full consent of the Khoi and San.

Spokesperson for the trust, Jody Aufrichtig, previously stated: "The detailed rezoning application that was submitted for consideration included comprehensive and independent specialist reports that meticulously assessed the biodiversity, hydrology, socio-economic, visual and heritage impacts of the project. This followed extensive public participation processes … over many years."

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