Contractors have started work on a shopping mall at the old Ladies Mile drop-off site despite a civic group’s court bid to stop it.
The Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) lodged an application in the Western Cape High Court in December 2017 to review and set aside the City of Cape Town’s decision to allow a mall on the site.
The CRRA claims the City’s decision is unlawful.
Yvonne Leibman, the CRRA’s attorney and herself a long-time member of its committee, said it represented many members who had objected to the proposed development after it had been advertised.
“The CRRA consulted with its members, the majority of which do not want a retail shopping centre of this size, but the application was nevertheless approved by the City,” said Ms Leibman.
Without going into detail, Ms Leibman said the City’s decision to approve the application was unlawful, and the CRRA was obliged to challenge it and take all necessary steps to protect the interests of its members.
The Solomon Family Trust is behind the development of the R250 million centre (“Constantia’s hidden history,” Bulletin March 2, 2017).
The development forms a 1.5-hectare trapezoidal shape bounded by the M3, Ladies Mile, Spaanschemat River Road and Kendal Road.
The land was formerly Sillery Farm and was the Solomon family home before apartheid’s Group Areas Act forced them off the land.
After a protracted land claim process, the family were awarded their original land by the land claims commissioner who required a business plan as part of the settlement agreement.
In August 2015, Rashaad Solomon, chairman of the Hadji Abdullah Solomon Family Trust, told the Bulletin that they planned to develop the land and build a supermarket, townhouses and apartments (“Plans for drop-off revealed,” April 14, 2016).
The City received 53 objections to the proposed Shoprite Checkers development (“Ladies Mile land: have your say,” Bulletin, July 14, 2016).
Later that year, Mr Solomon said the City had given the development plan the green light.
The CRRA is unhappy with the outcome and argues the development pays little respect to the site’s history, as smallholdings with micro processing and trading facilities, as seen on old aerial photographs of the area.
Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron confirmed the CRRA’s court challenge was tackling the decisions by the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) and mayor Patricia de Lille to grant land-use applications for the shopping centre.
He said because the matter was before the court, the City could not comment further at this stage.
Mr Herron said the developer had put up hoarding and had provisional authorisation to build the basement and retaining structures.
“The City cannot prevent the developer/property owner as this work is being undertaken at their own risk while the parties await the hearing of the review application,” said Mr Herron.
The mayor’s and MPT’s decisions were valid until the high court had ruled otherwise.
“As such, 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. The City hereby confirms that we are currently considering the building plan application,” said Mr Herron.
The Bulletin has contacted Rashaad Solomon and Nasser Solomon by email, landline and cellphone and through their website on July 23, 24, 25, 29 and August 2 but they did not respond by the time this edition went to print.