By Nawaal Adams
After months of wrangling, the Solomon family has won a court tribunal to develop a piece of land in Constantia. The family had plans to construct a shopping complex on their reclaimed land in the wealthy suburb, which was opposed by residents.
The land in question is today divided into two properties, spanning an area of 14 562m². The family farmed the land from 1902 and resided on the farm for 65 years prior to being expelled under the Group Areas Act. The family’s proposed development would span 7 811m² of their land.
Their land which had been forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act, during the apartheid era, was returned to the Solomon family through the government’s restitution process. Land restitution aims to return all land that was seized from the disadvantaged during the harrowing apartheid era.
It was in 1996 that the Solomon family began the restitution process. After a lengthy process and enduring an agonizing wait of 10 years the land claims court eventually finalised a Deed of Settlement.
Constantia residents remain on edge about the new development. The residents believe that the shopping complex will cause unnecessary traffic, and many of them have looked to an online petition to voice their concern.
A local policy plan was drawn up by the residents without the Solomon family having any knowledge about the plan. The concern and dissatisfaction of the Constantia residents occurred because many of them would prefer a residential area instead of a shopping complex.
However, the Solomons’ are planning to include a residential component in their development plans, but they will start with a commercial component first. Rodney Cronwright, the town planner for the Trust, stated that the family received the title deeds to the land in 2012.
“On the 13th of December they were granted the rights to develop the land for a shopping centre and for general business. However, there will be a period where residents may appeal. If they fail to appeal within the given period the Solomon family will be allowed to submit their building plans,” he explained.
“For these plans to be implemented the Solomon family will have to enter a partnership with a commercial developer. Once these plans have been approved building can begin.”
The shopping centre will create employment and overall prosperity for the community. A sustainable income can finally be achieved thus improving the lives of many.
‘’It is a major step for the community,” said Cronwright.
The Constantia Ratepayers and Residents Associations declined to comment on the matter. VOC