Bulldozing at any cost

Geof Kirby, Constantia

No one will question the Solomons’ right to the equitable restitution of their land (“Green light for trust’s development plan”, Bulletin, December 22, 2016).

What is of deep concern is the council’s bulldozing through a thoroughly inappropriate development at any cost to the surrounding community.

The 500-odd pages of the final report were signed off on November 25, last year and a copy was passed on to the Constantia Ratepayer’s and Residents’ Association (CRRA), allowing them just six days to prepare a substantive response to it.

Council also graciously allowed 10 minutes in total for all verbal representations. Council refused the CRRA’s request to extend this window sufficiently to prepare a comprehensive brief.

All of this took place over a part of the year when holidays were looming. Council admits the proposal is not compliant with the criteria for desirability in terms of the Municipal Planning By-Law nor with vital aspects of the Southern District Spatial Development Plan (SDSDP) which provides that no expansion in the extent of existing commercial areas should be permitted and no further regional shopping centres should be permitted.

It attempts to explain, rather unconvincingly, why this application can ignore these stipulations. It is also noted that both Shoprite Checkers and Setplan have gone to considerable expense in preparing these plans regardless of what the SDSDP policies stipulate in terms of land use or, indeed, national aspirations as to land usages.

Council’s behaviour, in not correcting the Solomon families, Shoprite and Setplan before the plans for this folly became thus far advanced, lends support to the theory that there is more to this than meets the eye.

Council’s support for this application, despite its flaws, inconsistencies and collusive approvals points to either incompetence or council bowing to undue pressure from the applicants.

That council should steamroll through a token democratic process to ensure the plans meet minimal informed opposition tends to reinforce this view.

The planning department has not been immune to underhand financial influences as the 2009 M&G report http://mg.co.za/article/2009-08-27-fraud-rife-in-cape-town-planning-dept- says-report exposes.

There may be solid reasons for council not telling the applicants to go back to the drawing board at the outset. I can’t find any serious opposition to these deeply flawed plans by council at any stage in the process and their lip service to the democratic process leads one to draw certain conclusions.