The City of Cape Town’s controversial R1 billion sale of land between Clifton and Camps Bay to private developers is back in the spotlight following a court application in the Cape High Court this week.
The Bungalow Owners Association brought the matter to court to set aside the sale of five hectares of land by the City of Cape Town to a company called K2015298271 South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
The city council awarded the company the sale in September, saying the proposed development would improve “public access to the beach, ocean and recreational facilities as well as protect the natural vegetation, enhance local and international tourism potential, and unlock investment to drive job creation”.
However, the applicants, who include celebrity divorce and criminal attorney Billy Gundelfinger, who owns a bungalow in Clifton and is a member of the association’s committee, and two prominent businessmen, Mark Willcox and Gavin Varejes, claim the proposed development would do the opposite.
Seven respondents have been cited, including the minister of environmental affairs, Heritage Western Cape and the SA Heritage Resources Agency by lawyer Richard Summers, representing the litigants.
In their 465-page court application, the applicants and their supporters charge the development is not in the interests of the residents and the decision by the city council to sell and lease the site and to embark on the Clifton Precinct Upgrade development “completely ignores and flies in the face of the site’s protected status”.
The sale took place although Maiden’s Cove is part of the Clifton scenic reserve and is a protected provincial heritage site in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 1999. The public land sold includes the Glen Country Club, the bowling greens, the clubhouse, free public parking space on Fourth Beach, St Gabriel’s Church (built in 1926), the old restaurant site, the Clifton Scout Hall, public toilets, a cricket oval, the Maiden’s Cove picnic and recreation area and the Bungalow restaurant site.
Nele Vermaak, the chairperson of the Bungalow Owners Association, said the association had about 170 members, all of whom owned or lived in the Clifton, Glen Beach and Bakoven areas.
“The association’s main objectives were the conservation of the unique character of he bungalows located in Clifton, Glen Beach and Bakoven conservation of the environment (including the land and sea) and the heritage associated with it and compliance legislation,” she said.
Priya Reddy, City of Cape Town spokesperson, said the review application was being perused by the city council.
“Seeing that this matter is before the Western Cape High Court the city will not comment until the case has been finalised.”
Scenic site has special significance
Well-known architect and professional heritage practitioner Stephen Townsend wrote in support of the Bungalow Owners Association court application that the memories of Maiden’s Cove were for most people tinged with the experience of apartheid, its oppressive restrictions and limited opportunity of the most ordinary kind.
This is because, Townsend said, “although the memories may be deep and rich, Maiden’s Cove was one of the only two beaches on the Atlantic coast ‘reserved for coloured bathing’ which, I note, pertained as early as 1946”.
He said stopping the development would be conserving a legacy for future generations as it was a unique amenity with deep and visceral meaning and significance for the people of the Bo Kaap, District Six, Woodstock and the Cape Flats.