LANGEBAAN residents who have been involved in the “battle for Shark Bay” with an Italian property developer will know later this year whether the Western Cape High Court will set aside a decision to approve a controversial housing development.
Residents from the West Coast town have been opposing development on the site for nearly 30 years since the first application was made in 1986 by previous landowners.
Italian developer Riccardo Scarpellini’s plans to create a luxury housing estate on the 82ha site in Shark Bay, have been met with strong opposition from the Langebaan Ratepayers and Residents Association (LRRA).
The association last year applied to the high court to review the decision by Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell to grant approval for the housing development.
Residents are fighting the development on the basis that the land has to be retained as a nature conservancy.
The area is also considered a buffer zone between the West Coast National Park and the town’s urban edge.
Bredell approved the development in 2012 but with a record of decision that most of the land remain public open space while the number of houses was cut from 109 to 69.
Jaco Kotze, chairman of the ratepayers association, said they had since made the application to the high court to have Bredell’s decision set aside.
Bredell and the Saldanha Bay Municipality agreed to abide by the court’s decision. The only respondent is Dormell Properties 391 (Pty) Ltd, Scarpellini’s company.
Alison Pienaar, representing the ratepayers, said she expected the high court to make a ruling later this year.
Kotze said residents were also up in arms because SANParks had always supported their opposition to the development but last year informed residents that they had “struck a deal” with the developer.
Kotze said the developer had agreed to donate the land, which is to remain public open space, to SANParks to manage. He said SANParks’s about-turn was worrying.
Scarpellini said the development would make a “significant” improvement in the area.
He said when a court ordered in 2001 that the area was developable and no further environmental work was required, he could have gone ahead with his plans.
“Instead Dormell commissioned two environmental impact assessments by a series of leading independent experts and was approved by MEC Bredell. The development is within the urban edge as determined by Saldanha Bay Municipality. Shark Bay has strong support, the only exception are 47 persons who voted for the Langebaan residents review, out of many thousands.”
He saidthe environmental, public access, provision of facility, economic and social benefits on Dormell’s private land and the donation of a significant portion far outweigh the assertions of Kotze and the others.
A small portion of the land would be developed (6 percent) and that ablution and parking facilities would be built, guaranteeing kiters, fishermen and Langebaan residents access to the beach.
“The houses will not exceed 250 square metres. My donation of the remaining land will prevent any further development to occur and remain in its undisturbed state for all future generations,” Scarpellini said.