Monthly Archives: April 2010

Sea Point: safe from harm

Article by Kabous le Roux, original here

My wife and I regularly go for evening walks along the Sea Point beachfront, one of my favourite spots in and around the Cape Town city centre.

There are more than three kilometers of flat, paved walkway along the length of Sea Point with dramatic views of the mountain on one side and the wide open ocean on the other. And the sunsets! You have to see it to really appreciate it.

All along the path there are large lawns where people have picnics or play games such as informal soccer or touch rugby matches. Many families go there to get fresh air and spend some quality time together. You’ll find people jogging from one end to the other while others will be walking their dogs. There’ll be children playing cheerfully and old ladies gossiping on the benches. It’s an awesome, chilled-out vibe and a great place to enjoy the city and its people.

The young, the old, the rich and the poor love the Promenade. In fact, I can’t think of another public space in Cape Town where its ultra diverse population mixes so effortlessly. The Promenade is one of those places that makes you feel grateful you live in such an amazing place.

All of which explains The Dance of Joy I did upon hearing the news of the Cape High Court’s ruling against the rezoning and development of the Sea Point Pavilion site.

Do we need even more shopping malls, boutique hotels or über-trendy coffee shops? I would say no, but I’d admit it’s debatable. Do we need them in one of the last remaining open spaces in a city that seems to have shopping malls, boutique hotels and a vida e café on every corner? Hell no!

The failure of the Province and the City to see the inappropriateness of this development (as well as the determined fight against it) makes me think of a Nine Inch Nails song from way back:

God money’s not looking for the cure;
God money’s not concerned with the sick among the pure;
God money let’s go dancing on the backs of the bruised;
God money’s not one to choose.

No, you can’t take it; no you can’t take that away from me!

Thank you so much to Seafront for All (SEAFA) for fighting to preserve the Sea Point Promenade!

SEAFA, an organisation funded by private individuals, will now mount a fundraising campaign to cover its legal costs. According to Bennie Rabinowitz, the Chairperson of SEAFA, their costs have been significant. “It is disgraceful that civil society has had to protect interests which government should rightly have upheld,” said Rabinowitz.

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Victory for SEAFA

The Cape Town High Court has made a landmark ruling in favour of environmental lobby group Seafront for All over the Seapoint Pavilion site. In November 2007 Seafa lodged an application with the high court for the set-aside and review of the Environmental Record of Decision by former Western Cape MEC Tasneem Essop.

Seafa’s Project Manager, Janey Ball said that the legal wrangling has finally been put to bed on Friday. “The last two years have been building up to the high court application which was finalised on Friday when judges Seraj Desai and Burton Fourie found in favour for Seafa and required that the Environmental Record of Decision was set aside.”


Twelve years ago the City of Cape Town called for the proposal to develop the Seapoint Pavilion site and at first proposed that 1,700 square meters be developed. “The end result … the proposal that was accepted was in fact 6,700 square meters and in fact a lot more than that when we calculated the space from the drawing,” said Ball.

The architectural plans also showed that a hotel and a shopping mall would have been built on that land. The rezoning of the area was required and the public participated in the environmental impact assessment, upon which the Record of Decision was then issued. This allowed for the rezoning process to take place.

“That was appealed in the public participation process,” explained Ball. “…and then appealed again formally to the minister who then issued a revised Record of Decision concerning her original decision. So that paved the way for the development of the Seapoint Pavilion site,” she added.


Ball emphasised that Seafa was not against the development of site but they were, however, against the rezoning application that would have placed the public open space in private hands for commercial use. The court ruling now means that the city must withdraw the proposal call as well as their support for the rezoning application.

“The city will need to apply its mind to the judgment and to the papers before it,” said Ball. “But they’ve indicated in the past they would consider doing so and we hope that they will. It’s totally inappropriate to develop that land as a shopping complex or hotel site,” she continued. “It’s used very intensively by the whole community of Cape Town and it’s one of the places where democracy can really be seen at work.”

VOC (Faatimah Hendricks)

Halt to Sea Point development welcomed

Campaigners against the private development of Sea Point Pavilion are “delighted” it has been stopped.
Sea Front For All (Seafa) on Friday won its case in the Western Cape High Court against the then MEC of Environmental Affairs Tasneem Essop and the provincial government to allow the development to go ahead on certain conditions.

The development now has to be considered afresh by her successor.

Sea Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay Ratepayers and Residents’ Association chair Aris Vayanos said he was looking forward to the new participation process.

“We wish to remain involved in the process. As residents of the area we’d like to see Sea Point stay as it is, as an open space.”

On Track Developments wanted to build an upmarket hotel which would extend onto the beach below the high water mark.

The developer needed written authorisation under the Environmental Conservation Act (ECA). It also needed special authorisation for construction below the high-water mark.

Seafa project manager Janey Ball said she was heartened by the wide-ranging support the project had attracted and the positive reaction from residents following the ruling.

“Our focus will remain on the protection and preservation of the public open space. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the process as it is referred to the MEC for consideration,” said Ball.

“We will also urgently ask the city to withdraw the original proposal call which set the entire project in motion.

“In its current intended form it is non-negotiable. We will continue to oppose that in the strongest possible terms.

“If they were to consider development it would require a full environmental impact assessment,” said Ball.

Seafa challenged the validity of such environmental approval granted on appeal by Essop in 2007 after her department had previously granted approval.

They argued that no alternatives to the development were considered and the MEC had relied on outdated and incorrect information.

She had also relied on a report by a consultancy company with a financial interest in the approval of the development, they said. They claimed she had not balanced the need for the development with an adverse impact on public open space.

Only On Track opposed the application as the MEC and provincial government withdrew its opposition and the City of Cape Town never opposed it.

Former MEC Pierre Uys conceded in an affidavit that his predecessor had based her decision on a report by a party with a financial interest.

Judges Burton Fourie and Siraj Desai agreed with Seafa that Essop’s decision was flawed and set out guidelines in their judgment that had to be taken into account by the current administration in reconsidering the development application.

  • This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on March 29, 2010

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