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Cape Town - The 15-year struggle to save the Sea Point Pavilion from commercial development may be over, but there’s still disagreement about how the proposed 52-bedroom hotel on the beachfront ever got on to the council’s planning agenda.
The City of Cape Town on Thursday agreed the land would remain zoned as public open space and would not be available for commercial development.
Atlantic Seaboard ward councillor Beverley Schafer said the council’s decision brought to an end the “intense battle” that cost civic group Seafront for All (Seafa) R3 million in legal fees. But she said the proposed development had been an example of ANC cronyism and possible corruption.
She said the council decision brought to an end “the sad chapter where the ANC-run City of Cape Town, including the ANC-led provincial government at the time, tried to sell off the crown jewels of this city, which included Big Bay and the three erven on Sea Point Pavilion”.
The aspirant developer, On Track Developments, never had a signed lease with the city, there was no development agreement or Environmental Impact Assessment in place. Furthermore the company was liquidated in June, adding impetus to the city’s decision not to proceed with the land use application.
She alluded to the “dubious processes” followed by then Environmental Affairs MEC Tasneem Essop, who authorised the development in 2004.
There were about 100 appeals against her decision, but in 2007, the development was given the go ahead with a number of conditions.
There was also a conflict of interest, as one of the companies involved in the scoping report, Commlife, would have handled the letting of the development’s retail premises and would therefore have benefited from the project.
But ANC councillor Jeremiah Thuynsma said while the ANC may have been in power at the time, the proposal for the development of the pavilion came from a Sea Point councillor.
“On Track was unfortunately black. If a white company had won the tender, it would not have had the same problems.”
He said the city was not doing enough for the people of Tramway Road who wanted to return to their land in Sea Point.
Mayor Patricia de Lille refused to be drawn into a racial debate on the issue. She said the site had long been used as an interactive public open space and the council’s recommendation would ensure it was not developed in future.