Green light for trust’s development plans

The Constantia land restitution process around the site of the old Ladies Mile drop-off facility will go ahead.

Chairman of the Hadjie Abdullah Solomon Family Trust, Rashaad Solomon, said it was a victory for his family – which came just before the Day of Reconciliation, Friday December 16.

The Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA), however, are unhappy with the outcome. They say the development pays little respect to the site’s history as smallholdings with micro processing and trading facilities, as can be seen on the historic aerial photographs, and plan to appeal the decision to allow the planned development to go ahead.

David Broad, from the Uitsig Road Coniston Way Crime Watch group, who attended part of the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) meeting on Tuesday December 13, is also disappointed with the outcome.

“It seems to have been a decision based on the politics of land restitution,” he wrote in a personal report back to the crime watch community after the meeting.

“The CRRA presented a good summary of all the objections including the observation that the proposal was in violation of the Spatial Development Plan for Constantia, which, among other things, recommended that no further shopping centres should be built in Constantia and that all commercial development must be confined to the ‘Constantia Triangle’,” he said.

The Constantia Triangle is the area bounded by Constantia Main Road, Spaanschemat River Road and Ladies Mile Extension and the properties fronting onto those roads.

Speaking on behalf of the CRRA executive committee, Isabelle Franzen, said they, along with 53 other parties, had objected to the proposed Shoprite Checkers development on the Ladies Mile and Kendal Road site (“Ladies Mile land: have your say”, Bulletin, July 14).

She said the application had been ongoing for the past 18 months.

The applicant responded to the objections and City Planners compiled a report for the MPT, a decision making authority comprising ex-city town planners, people working in private practice and City of Cape Town officials.

Ms Franzen said they only received documentation on Wednesday November 30 and were given six working days to prepare for the MPT meeting.

“It was far too short to prepare a meaningful case and communicate with our members, so we requested a postponement to February,” said Ms Franzen.

The day before the planned meeting, however, they were informed that their request for a postponement had been denied.

CRRA then appealed to members to demonstrate solidarity by attending the meeting at the Alphen Hall which overflowed with about 100 people.

Ms Franzen said the 54 objectors were collectively given 10 minutes for an interview. Representing them was Constantia lawyer Yvonne Leibman who said the large, vacant site presented an opportunity for the establishment of a quality new neighbourhood, accommodating a range of housing types and associated uses, including a convenience retail component and open spaces.

“Affordable housing with work from home or close to home opportunities will alleviate traffic congestion in the city centre and will be entirely in line with the City’s Densification Policy,” she said.

Ms Leibman argued that approval of the application would result in traffic congestion.

“It will do nothing to alleviate the city’s gridlock traffic situation and will only provide more shopping opportunities for a community that is already well served by existing shopping centres,” she said.

Ward 62 councillor Liz Brunette said she had not been required to address the tribunal but chose to because of the importance of the project. She said the Solomon family had been denied an economic income from their land for all these years and she was one hundred percent in favour of the proposal and believed the acceptance of it was the correct outcome.

The MPT then voted with four in favour, one against. The person who voted against it did not support the proposal because he believed the Ladies Mile site was deserving of something more than a shopping centre.

He appealed to the developers to consider much grander ideas when developing the remainder of the site.

The Solomon families were evicted from their Constantia home in 1967 under apartheid’s Group Areas Act. They won their restitution case and submitted plans to build a R250 million shopping centre on the old dump site, anchored by Shoprite Checkers as a tenant (“Plans for drop-off revealed”, Bulletin, April 14).

On the day after the MPT meeting, Mr Solomon said it had been 114 years and 12 days that the family had been denied an income from their commercial farm.

He said the shopping centre would be called Solomon Square and the City of Cape Town had accepted it.

He explained that part of the R250 million development included a R4.5 million reconstruction and redevelopment of the road infrastructure including a traffic circle and road widening, providing access to their land and to that of other claimants.