Cape Town - The controversial Lagoon Bay development proposal near George has won a challenge in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein with costs. But this is not an automatic green light for work to start on the R5bn golf estate project.
The developer must re-submit its previously approved application for the George structure plan to be amended. The property where the development is planned - the historic Hoogekraal farm between George and Mossel Bay - is designated “agriculture-forestry” and environment MEC Anton Bredell will have to approve a change to “township development”.
This is one of four separate statutory approvals that the developer, Lagoon Bay Lifestyle Estate, has to secure.
The other three are for rezoning and sub-division approval; environmental approval; and approval of building plans under the National Building Act.
The reason for the Supreme Court’s decision lies in its interpretation of constitutional responsibility between various levels of government. It has its origins in a 2007 decision by Tasneem Essop when she was environment MEC.
Essop approved the developer’s application for an amendment to the George structure plan, but added a condition that subdivision and rezoning had to be approved by the province.
Last July the George municipality approved the development’s subdivision and rezoning. But because of Essop’s earlier requirement, the municipality’s approval was sent to Bredell for confirmation – and he turned it down.
When the developer challenged Bredell’s decision in the Western Cape High Court, its application was refused by Judge Bennie Griesel.
The Supreme Court of Appeal said the rezoning application was a matter for thez George municipality, not the provincial government.
Essop had usurped for herself and her department officials a power that had been reserved for the George municipality.
This meant her conditions could not be fulfilled and her final decision was “impossible of performance”.
“The upshot of all this is that the development cannot go ahead until such time as the minister (Bredell) approves the application to amend the structure plan.”