Cape Town - In a last-ditch attempt to stop the construction of what is set to become the biggest building on the edge of the Bo-Kaap, residents have filed an appeal against the decision by the Municipal Planning Tribunal that the R1 billion development would not affect the heritage resources of the area.
Throwing its weight behind the appeal, the Urban Design Institute of South Africa (Udisa) said it endorsed the concern the building would be inappropriate from an urban design perspective.
In a report compiled for the Bo-Kaap Ratepayers' and Civic Association and submitted as part of the appeal, architect, city planner, urban designer and heritage practitioner Fabio Todeschini argued the developer failed to submit a detailed assessment of the existing character of the area around the site to establish clear design indicators from a heritage resources perspective.
In its appeal filed with the city on Monday, the association also argued the tribunal had not provided sufficient reasons for the decision it took in June, and that it did not set out its understanding of the relevant law and policies.
More than 1 000 residents of the area objected to the development, but these were dismissed by the tribunal.
Objectors were given until Monday to appeal the tribunal's ruling that gave permission for the consolidation of two erven bounded by Buitengracht and Rose streets to make way for a 60m-high apartment and retail building which would fill a city block between Longmarket and Shortmarket streets.
The 249 apartments would be terraced towards the Bo-Kaap with basement parking of over 300 bays.
The association said it disagreed with the tribunal that the interface and facades of the building would be in keeping with the area.
Instead, it would tower over Riebeeck Square and create a barrier between the heritage resources of the Bo-Kaap and the city, as well as between the community and Table Mountain.
"The proposal would have an irreversible negative impact on heritage that cannot be mitigated."
In a letter of support, Udisa's Western Cape chairman, Khalied Jacobs, said there had been an apparent "lack of due regard to City of Cape Town policies and other considerations and provisions that in all reasonableness would be deemed inapplicable for this site and context." Todeschini concurred.
"The development proposals are truly massive and out of place and would obviously do very severe damage to the character of the broader context, including provincial heritage sites. The proposals do not conform to various City of Cape Town policies and many policy statements," he said.
The appellants have also argued that the tribunal's view that the applicant had a right of which he could not be deprived to build up to 60m, was incorrect in law. "Property rights are not absolute and are limited by legislation," they contend.
"Compliance with the zoning scheme does not equate to an absolute right to have building plans approved. A zoning scheme is considered to be of municipal legislation and does not override other legislation."
The association has asked for an opportunity to deliver oral arguments before the appeal authority.
Mayor Patricia de Lille has the final say on the matter upon the advice of a technical team. The association has asked that this panel include a heritage specialist, a traffic specialist and a civil engineer.