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Clifton protesters turn back a R1bn concrete tide

Residents of Clifton in Cape Town will sleep easier.
Residents of Clifton in Cape Town will sleep easier.
Image: 123RF/ jaysi

Tycoons living in one of the country’s most exclusive and stunning locations can sleep soundly after the City of Cape Town dropped its fight to have a mega development in the area.

The owners of bungalows in Clifton‚ on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard‚ have been engaged in a legal battle with the city over its decision to sell 5ha of prime coastal land between Clifton and Camps Bay‚ known as Maiden’s Cove‚ for R1bn.

The developers planned to build more than 50 houses‚ a hotel‚ a shopping mall and a 700-bay car park.

The Bungalow Owners Association‚ celebrity divorce lawyer Billy Gundelfinger and businessmen Mark Willcox and Gavin Verejey lodged a review application in the high court in Cape Town in April in a bid to turn back the concrete tide.

In a statement on Friday‚ the city council said it had decided to withdraw its opposition to the application after careful consideration and taking public concerns into account.

“To date‚ the city has opposed the review application‚” said Stuart Diamond‚ the mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management.

“However‚ over the past months we have taken note of the concerns raised by residents‚ non-profit organisations and others. These concerns relate to the impact the proposed development could have on Maiden’s Cove‚ and how it could affect those who frequently visit the area.

“We have heard their pleas‚ read their letters and opinion pieces‚ and reflected on their arguments.”

Diamond said the city withdrew its opposition to the court application after consulting lawyers‚ and had informed the developer about the decision.

“We are committed to working together with our residents in devising a vision for one of Cape Town’s most inclusive and valued public spaces‚” he said.

A confidential report tabled before the mayoral committee on Friday‚ and seen by SowetanLIVE‚ said the process followed in selling the land was “procedurally unfair”.

It said: “The conceptual proposal for the development was not made accessible to users of the Maiden’s Cove site to enable them to meaningfully engage in the planned development.

“At public meetings the members of the public were not invited or afforded an opportunity to put forward alternative proposals for the development of the area‚ and no mention was made of the site’s heritage status.”

The development was planned by a shelf company linked to Ethan Dube’s Vunani Capital‚ which was announced as the successful bidder last year. Fellow Vunani director Mark Anderson said the city’s decision had taken them by surprise.

“We are still digesting it‚ I don’t know what to say at the moment‚” Anderson said on Friday afternoon.

Janey Ball‚ the co-founder of a non-profit organisation opposed to the development‚ Maiden's Cove for All‚ welcome the city’s decision.

“We are delighted and hope that this marks the end of the intended development on the site‚” said Ball.

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