Victory for Solomon family

Members of the Solomon family.

The Solomon family are thrilled after a unanimous vote by the municipal planning tribunal last week cleared another hurdle for their shopping-centre development in Constantia.

The Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) was among 51 objectors to the development of a R250 million shopping centre, anchored by Shoprite Checkers.

The City gave the green light for the development in December 2016.

At the meeting, held at the Alphen Centre in Constantia on Tuesday January 22, the association’s legal representative Yvonne Leibman said the association believed the shopping centre should form part of a site development plan.

A crane looms over the construction site, which is bounded by the Simon Van Der Stel Highway and Spaanschemat River and Ladies Mile roads and screened off by green netting.

The CRRA is also objecting to an application by the landowners, Hadjie Abdullah Solomon Family Trust and Hadjie Ismael Solomon Family Trust, to change the height of the building.

The development will cover
7 811m², and, according to the planning by-law, could reach a maximum height of 15m.

The landowners originally applied for a height of 11.4m but about two years ago they amended the plan, increasing this to 14m – a 26% increase.

“This to allow for a pitch roof, more in keeping with the area, from a flat roof,” said the landowners’ attorney Mogamat Botha.

The chairman of the trusts, Rashaad Solomon, continues to stress that the development complies with by-laws and the “Constantia look and feel” and that it will satisfy his great-grandfather.

The Solomon family, who farmed the land from 1902, occupied the farm for 65 years before they were removed under the Group Areas Act.

They started the restitution process in 1996 and, 10 years later, the Land Claims Court concluded a deed of settlement with the two trusts.

After last week’s tribunal meeting, Mohamed Nur Solomon said
their family, among others, had developed the land in the Constantia valley into a self-sustaining, commercially productive place, growing flowers, vegetables and fruit for export and raising livestock and poultry.

Rashaad Solomon showed pictures of hanepoot grapes grown from the same vines that were salvaged after the family were evicted from the farm.

Mr Solomon said those vines had been shared and nurtured by the family, and they represented the hope that one day they would be able to again benefit from the land they had lost. He intends having tiles made for the centre using the grapes as a design. Sharief Solomon said the tribunal’s decision was what they had expected.