The City of Cape Town’s plan to construct a 19-storey apartment building in Bo-Kaap has recently been met with opposition by residents who feel that the building will be in stark contrast to the 2-storey homes that make-up the heritage site. This prompted concerned residents to campaign against the development collecting more than 1000 signatures. While this figure might be a positive step for the campaign, Tuesday’s approval by the Municipal Planning Tribunal indicates that the City is not entirely convinced.
The new development is expected to include 249 apartments, 324 parking bays and 5000 M2 of commercial retail outlets.
Chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, Osman Shaboodien, said that while residents were invited to observe the meeting, the City has not taken their concerns seriously.
“I think that the City’s record shows that it shreds any objection that it receives, up until now most of the objections are not taken seriously – you have to go to court to convince the City to take you seriously,” Shaboodien said.
Shaboodien said that the concerns of residents include the fact that the development of high rise buildings will hide the view of the area and consequently obstruct the view of Cape Town from residents.
He further noted that the zoning scheme, which allows contractors to build to a height of 60 meters, further undermines the concerns of residents who have resided in the area for generations.
“It is like a massive wall that is being built around Bo-Kaap and is assisted by the zoning schemes that was established in1941 – it’s an archaic, apartheid zoning scheme. We are against this, since this will block out all sunlight. These buildings do not belong near a heritage site like Bo-Kaap.”
While the final decision rests with Mayor Patricia de Lille, Shaboodien said that he does not believe that the mayor will act in favour of the residents.
He said that the City’s plans appear to encourage the gentrification of the area, where one of the 250 units in the new development is estimated to cost more than R1.5 million.
“What she [De Lille] and council is doing is not encouraging the ordinary workers of coming into town, but encouraging residential units for upper income people to stay in town – there is definitely something wrong here,” he added.
Shaboodien further asserted that the City’s actions indicate a will to increase space for the affluent within Cape Town, since new developments are easily processed, where developments such as District Six appears to be met with constant delays.
As a means to rectify the City’s current development of the City, he said that the City needs to house the working class and increase social development within the city centre.
“The challenge that us as citizens in the City of Cape Town have is that if we don’t change the mind-set of the City, we are all going to suffer in the end, because the city is determined to make as much money out of Cape Town to benefit their developers at our expense,” Shaboodien continued.