Bo-Kaap home owners say they will be appealing the City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal’s decision to allow the development of a R1 billion, 60m-high apartment and retail blockin the historic neighbourhood.
During a visit to the area on Thursday, some residents expressed their concern following the Tribunal’s decision. Resident Yusuf Safudien claims the monstrous development compromises the unique history of Bo-Kaap.
“This city is all about making money through investors and developers. The tribunal has implemented a law passed in Apartheid. All of the residents gave their concerns in writing to the tribunal and not one was considered in the final decision on the development of this high-rise,” Safudien explained.
Residents now plan to mobilise the community in appealing the decision with the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille in hopes of safeguarding the essence of Bo-Kaap. Home owner and member of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, Jacky Poking says they presented a petition with over 1000 signatures and written complaints regarding the high-rise. They say the development will result in the obstruction of views and issues with the already congested traffic conditions in the area. The building will fill a city block between Longmarket and Shortmarket streets with 249 residential units and over 300 parking bays.
“These types of things are going to invade out space. If that goes through then the next goes through and after a while you get tired. Another unit with similar residential units will be going up as well. The cheapest price is about R1 million for a bachelors pad. The kind of people that can afford to live there will soon outnumber the original residents of Bo-Kaap and further escalate the socio-economic many of the current residents face.
Poking told VOC News that the community will be discussing possible ways to take this forward over the weekend.
“We’ve tried doing it their way. We played the game the way they said we should play it and obviously it means nothing. Now we will be looking at other strategies forward,” Poking added.
However, another resident, human rights lawyer Fadlah Adams believes the situation in Bo-Kaap is “disempowering people as opposed to empowering them”. Speaking to VOC News, Adams described the City’s engagement with the community on the matter as “lip service” and lacking transparency.
“The existing government has a very robust pro poor policy and this does not speak to the poor. There have been several discussions around another development in Bo-Kaap to accommodate a sort of low cost housing but this development speaks to the higher echelon of socio-economic strata,” Adams continued.
“One of the major factors that stood out for me is that it takes so long for an ordinary resident to get approval for the development of their home but here is a monstrosity of a building that has been approved and seemingly without that many glitches. This is actually exacerbating the inequalities that exist within our society and in our community.”
Poking and other residents question the lack of transparency in the process and say discussion on ways forward will include the possibility of more protest action.
VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)