Cape Town - In a strongly worded rebuttal to a proposed restaurant development near Chapman’s Peak, members of the DA caucus have accused City of Cape Town planning officials of “abusing their positions” for their own personal agendas.
The full council is expected to decide this week on an application to rezone a portion of Cape Farm, on Avondrust Circle in Noordhoek, so that a 100-seat restaurant could operate on the site.
Despite 81 objections from the community, and a recommendation from the city’s own spatial planning, environment and land use management committee that the application should be refused, the mayoral committee last month agreed that the rezoning could take place. This was based on advice from officials in various departments, including planning, as well as a site visit by the mayor and her team.
However, the application was referred back during last month’s council meeting, after the DA asked for a 30-minute adjournment so that it could discuss the matter.
It is understood that the controversial development will be top of the agenda on Monday when the party meets to discuss its position ahead of Wednesday’s council meeting.
According to the rebuttal, councillors feel that the district planning manager instructed various city departments to report favourably on the application.
“To make matters worse, conditions requested by them have been arbitrarily excluded from the report. Serious issues have been brushed aside and the policies interpreted by the district planning manager in a subjective and inconsistent manner.”
It goes on to say that there was never an economic report on the impact of the restaurant on the area, and that reports regarding traffic, sanitation, the environmental impact, and spatial planning were inadequate or misleading.
“It is apparent that individual planning officials have determined that the city’s plans and policies are not aligned to their personal agendas and have abused their position to instruct case officers and commenting departments to provide favourable reports and exclude mitigating conditions.”
A report by Anthony Black, a UCT professor of economics, will also be considered by the DA on Monday.
Black said: “This development would be significantly negative as it would impact adversely on the sense of place of the entrance to Chapman’s Peak Drive and also Noordhoek Common.” He pointed out that the job creation provided by the development would be of “minimal value” to the South Peninsula.
While new business needed to be encouraged in the area, these needed to add to, rather than detract from, the tourism assets.
The applicant, represented by Headland Planners, argued in its motivation that the development was in line with the city’s 2020 tourism vision and that it would capitalise on the tourism appeal of Chapman’s Peak.
But Black said the “Save Chapman’s Peak” campaign highlighted the value of maintaining the rural/urban balance in Noordhoek.
There were already other restaurants in the area, including a 100-seat venue at the nearby Serina Mine site.