Cape Town - The Tramway Road Trust has agreed to sell its prime Sea Point land - which for more than a decade has been at the centre of doomed development deals - to Spear Property Trust for R51 million.

At a special general meeting of the Tramway Road Community Trust this weekend, the members agreed the land should be sold to Spear, who was also the highest bidder.

Alan Rubin, of ENSAfrica who conducted the process on the trust’s behalf, confirmed that the sale had been countersigned by the trustees and that the sale of the property had been formally concluded.

“As the requirements of the City of Cape Town that were conditions to the sale have been met, the sale is unconditional,” said Rubin.

The sale brings to an end a 13-year battle to compensate the families of the former residents of Tramway Road who were forcibly removed from Sea Point by the Group Areas Act.

Erf 1225 was given to the beneficiaries, represented by the Tramway Road Trust, by the City of Cape Town in 2001 as part of a restitution claim. Although some of the beneficiaries opted for a R17 000 payout from the Land Claims Commission at that time, a group of about 34 wanted to develop the land.

But the land has remained vacant as various development proposals, including one for a retirement village, fell through. Plans were also complicated by turmoil within the trust as several beneficiaries, calling themselves the “concerned group” distanced themselves from the chairman Leonard Lopes.

Questions were raised about funding, financial statements and minutes of meetings that could not be provided.

Last year, the trust announced that it needed to sell the land so that it could repay a R14m debt to Investec. The bank had provided funding for an upmarket residential development, called The Orchards, but the units had not sold as expected and the deal fell through.

The group of concerned beneficiaries indicated earlier this year that it could only support the sale once it had a full report of the trust’s current financial standing.

But it appears that Saturday’s special meeting had the required 15 members and that most of those present voted in favour of the sale. It is understood that the beneficiaries will get some compensation from the sale.

Abu Varachhia, chairman of Spear, said the land would be used for an upmarket residential development that was environmentally sensitive and in line with the neighbourhood. The proposal was still in the planning stage and would require the necessary council approvals.

Ward councillor Beverley Schafer welcomed the news of the sale which she said would mean a good outcome for all involved.

“This has been a long and unresolved issue in which both parties were losing.”

The sale was also good news for Sea Point, as it created an opportunity for a new development on land that had been lying vacant for several years.

Cape Argus