Bo-Kaap residents appeal decision on R1bn building

Bo-Kaap residents appeal decision on R1bn building

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.

Cape Argus

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Article in Cape Argus - Nod for ‘monster’ high-rise in Bo-Kaap

WESTERN CAPE / 08 Jun '16, 09:22am

Lindsay Dentlinger

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal has given the thumbs up for the construction of what Bo-Kaap residents have termed a “monster building” on the fringes of the historic neighbourhood.

The R1 billion, 60m-high apartment and retail block, would become the largest of its kind in the area in both height and bulk, filling a city block between Longmarket and Shortmarket streets with 249 residential units and over 300 parking bays.

Objectors to the building raised concerns over the protection of the Bo-Kaap's heritage, increased traffic congestion, the severing of pedestrian linkages to Riebeeck and Heritage squares and the gentrification of the area by those who would be able to afford the luxury apartments. File picture: Henk Kruger.  Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Objectors to the building raised concerns over the protection of the Bo-Kaap's heritage, increased traffic congestion, the severing of pedestrian linkages to Riebeeck and Heritage squares and the gentrification of the area by those who would be able to afford the luxury apartments. File picture: Henk Kruger. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA


Objectors from the surrounding properties between Buitengracht and Rose streets told the tribunal at a hearing on Tuesday that the proposed development was “unfriendly”, “objectionable”, “undesirable” and not in keeping with the area.

They raised concerns over the protection of the Bo-Kaap’s heritage, increased traffic congestion, the severing of pedestrian linkages to Riebeeck and Heritage squares and the gentrification of the area by those who would be able to afford the luxury apartments.

But despite more than 1 000 objections from the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, the owners of surrounding properties, adjacent apartment blocks The Studios and 35 on Rose, the tribunal said its decision was compliant with city policies on zoning, land use and heritage.

“It will be very imposing and will impact hugely on the profile in that part of the city, but the developer is exercising his rights,” said the chairman of the tribunal, David Daniels.

The Bo-Kaap Civic Association said it would appeal the tribunal’s ruling.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has the final say on allowing the development to proceed after considering any appeals and following consultation with her technical advisory panel.

After two hours of public submissions to the tribunal, Daniels said while the proposed building was “not ideal”, the tribunal’s “hands were tied”.

“This is not the right place to influence what can or cannot be built.

“There is nothing in this proposal that disjuncts with the land use permitted in that zoning,” he said.

The chairman of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, Osman Shaboodien, said the development would set a precedent for future development in the area and that heritage rights were being overridden by zoning rights.

There was a “misconception” that the strip between Rose and Buitengracht streets did not form part of the Bo-Kaap and it was “convenient” to describe it as part of the CBD, he said.

“These apartments won’t be sold to the people of Bo-Kaap. It’s an elitist development that will have an impact on our livelihood.”

But developer Jose Rodrigues said his team would transform the current nondescript, industrial space into an attractive development that would cater to the local community while also offering first-class accommodation.

The body corporate of The Studios, an apartment next door to the proposed development, said their natural light, privacy and views would be affected.

Town planner Tommy Brummer on behalf of Rodrigues, said the bulk of the 26 000m² development would be situated on the Buitengracht Street end.

The building would be terraced from 38m downwards towards Rose Street, so as to limit its impact and to fit in better with the surrounding buildings.

Brummer said “careful consideration” had been given to working around a small property which its owner, Cecily Blumberg, did not want to sell.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant asked the tribunal to defer its decision if necessary, to adopt a “pragmatic” approach to the matter given the “strong emotional response” to the heritage impact.

Members of the tribunal said densification of the central city had to be encouraged.

Cape Argus

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Article in Cape Argus - Row brews over R1bn complex in BoKaap

Built in 1790, this building houses the Streetwires Artist Collective and could cave in. Picture: David Ritchie/Independent Media

Row brews over R1bn complex in BoKaap


11 February 2016 at 13:10pm

By: Lindsay Dentlinger

Cape Town - A proposal for a R1 billion residential and commercial complex at the foot of the Bo-Kaap has residents, property owners and businesses up in arms.

The 19-storey, 60m-high building would be built on prime property overlooking the city’s heritage precinct of Heritage and Riebeeck squares.

Bounded by Buitengracht, Rose, Shortmarket and Longmarket streets, the proposed development would include 249 apartments, 324 parking bays and about 5 000m2 of commercial and retail outlets on the ground floor.

The key objections to the development from Bo-Kaap residents, is its excessive height and bulk, and the impact the building will have on the area’s heritage value.

Its façade in Buitengracht Street would be roughly equal in height to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, sloping down to about 30m high in Rose Street.

Residents said it would affect their privacy, cast shadows over their houses, block views and further entrench the barrier between the Bo-Kaap and the city centre.

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association, which is driving the objection process, has slammed the city council for not protecting the area’s rich heritage.

“It’s development at all costs for the city. It’s one thing to say you want to preserve heritage and what it brings for tourism, but the characteristics of the city are being destroyed,” said the association’s chairman Osman Shaboodien.

The association has launched the “Build bridges not barriers” campaign through which several hundred residents and other sympathetic parties have registered their objections.

Around 200 residents and interested parties met again on Tuesday night to encourage interested parties to lodge their objections before the February 18 deadline.

Shaboodien said the association was prepared to take the matter to court if need be.

The developer and director of Vantage Properties, José Rodrigues, said: “We are in the middle of the process now but all the comments and objections received will be considered and responded to in due course.”

The mayoral committee member for energy, environment and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe, said no decision had yet been made on whether the development will be given the green light.

“The city carefully considers all submitted applications within a contextually specific manner, and public participation is sought if and when required by applicable legislation,” he said.

Cicely Blumberg, who owns several properties in the area, said if allowed to proceed, construction work would almost certainly cause one of her buildings on Shortmarket Street to cave in.

Built in 1790, the building houses the Streetwires Artist Collective and, like many other properties in the area, does not have a cement foundation.

Blumberg has refused to sell her property to Vantage Properties and said she wanted to preserve the heritage of the area.

“A development of this magnitude is really terribly destructive.

“If the policy is to gentrify the city, in this case, it’s misguided.”

Owner of Italsud Motors, Tony L’Abbate said his workshop in Shortmarket Street would be severely affected by construction in the area.

“Clients will not want to come here where there are cement trucks and cranes,” he said.

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association has enlisted a team of professionals led by UCT architecture professor emeritus Fabio Todeschini to draft a response to the development proposal.

“Bo-Kaap residents and visitors will feel like they are in a fish bowl when walking around the streets – watched over by the residents of the proposed development,” they said in their report.

The three-storey deep basement parking garage had the potential to cause severe damage to the surrounding buildings during construction, and the height of the building in the path of the wind would increase turbulence, the team said.

Shaboodien said the kind of housing that would be created was not in line with the city council’s social housing and densification policies.

More high-end property would be created, exacerbating gentrification in the area and driving up rates for families who had lived in the area forgenerations.

Cape Argus

Article in The Times (Cape Town)

Download PDF of article

Squaring up to Goliath

Dec 11, 2015 | Jerome Cornelius

The Bo-Kaap has been galvanised by its opposition to a 20-storey building that would overlook the historic community.

If approved, the mixed-use development bounded by Buitengracht, Shortmarket, Longmarket and Rose streets will rise above Riebeek Square and overshadow areas of the residential suburb.

The plan is for a floor area of 30523m², of which 4000m² are allocated to shops and the rest to 250 apartments.

Osman Shaboodien, chairman of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, said: "We want to preserve Bo-Kaap's heritage. These new developments block out the view. It's like living in a fishbowl. Very soon we will be cut off completely from the city."

He said the residents planned to protest weekly until they were heard, with the first protest taking place last night.

"This has galvanised the whole idea that Bo-Kaap is a home," said Shaboodien.

Fabio Todeschini, an architect and Bo-Kaap resident, drafted objections to the development after its announcement on November 30. Two-hundred signatories have been collected.

The complaint, to be delivered to the City of Cape Town on Tuesday, states that "the development proposals are truly massive and out of place, and would obviously do very severe damage to the character of the broader context".

Moreover, they do not conform to the heritage and development controls in place.

It adds: "In fact, if you think about it, 'tall buildings' and the character of the Bo-Kaap are completely contradictory."

Todeschini said there were also concerns about safety and traffic congestion.

"The whole of the Bo-Kaap is built on blue stone, thick layers of sedimentary rock.

"When you dig basements - and they're proposing a three-storey basement - it vibrates, and not just locally.

"Many of the houses here are built of clay. Some of them will crack," he said.

The property's developer José Rodrigues of Vantage Property, said "At this early stage the proposed development is out for comment from interested and affected parties, which is part of the process, and we will only be able to comment substantively early next year."

Another Bo-Kaap architect and resident, Dominic Touwen, said: "Not only will the view will be ruined, but the 'monster' building will block the sun and encroach on the privacy of Bo-Kaap homes.

"The style of the building is completely inappropriate too. It's a Florida-style condominium block of flats."


Touwen said the city did not need more luxury apartments. "What we need is mid-income and low-income accommodation."

Mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning Johan van der Merwe said the council "carefully considers all submitted applications within a contextually specific manner". He added: " While public participation does not wholly determine the decision upon an application, it is used to help inform its outcome ."

Mark Claypole of Fabian Architects, famous for their luxury blocks of flats in Sea Point, said it was premature to comment while the plans were with the city council.