City must play fair over stadium lease, says civic

One of the fields at Hartleyvale Stadium.

The Observatory Civic Association (OCA) has started a petition calling for transparency from the City over its leasing of the Hartleyvale Stadium.

In 2017, the City leased Hartleyvale A and Malta Park B to Cape Town City Football Club for two years and 11 months. The lease expired on December 31, but the City hasn’t re-advertised the lease or given notice of any consultative process regarding the lease.

The civic association and the FC Kapstadt football club have accused the City of favouring the commercial club.

FC Kapstadt president Zaid Omar said the City had reneged on its agreement to issue the club with a long-term lease, following its move from Green Point Common ahead of the 2010 World Cup. They had also not had a chance to apply for a lease in 2017, he said, accusing the City of using loopholes to accommodate CT City.

“They only issued a two-year and 11-month lease to avoid the public participation process,“ he said. He claimed the City was favouring a ”commercial white business“ over a ”black community amateur club“.

He said: “We believe the only the reason the City is doing this is a return from white-owned business through commercial development.”

In its petition, OCA calls on City officials to cease any private negotiations with CT City; commit publicly to consult with the local community and with amateur sports codes who make use of the field; stop punishing amateur sports clubs that promote youth development in poor communities; refrain from using the Two Rivers Urban Park area as a political playground and recognise public land as a public commons that cannot be sold off for financial gain.

OCA spokesman Edwin Angless believes the City is encouraging CT City in this matter because they see the redevelopment of the River Club as opening the door to a wide range of commercial activities in the Two Rivers Urban Park, all of which, he says, are contrary to the current spatial development plan.

“The redevelopment of Hartleyvale is something that the owner of CT City has indicated they wish to do, to build a 10 000 seater stadium with a strong commercial backbone out of businesses in the stadium base. However, the owners have not made this public to the community of Observatory.”

Mr Angless said they were not able to formally object as the City had not initiated such a consultation

“There is no formal process to which we can object simply because the City is not following its own by-laws and national regulations. It is seemingly trying to get this approved by the back door,” he said.

The petition, he said, was started to indicate a wide range of public opinion against the concluding of a lease with CT City without any public participation.

“We have asked the City to initiate a participatory urban planning process for the Malta Park and Hartleyvale precincts. These piecemeal decisions are bad planning approaches and will cement long-term inequality. It’s hard to understand how the City thinks it is complying with the principle of redress of apartheid inequalities contained in its Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act by allowing the exclusion of FC Kapstadt in favour of a big corporate commercial club,” said Mr Angless.

The City confirmed that both Cape Town City Football Club and FC Kapstadt, submitted lease applications for the use of the fields, including field A and said these applications would follow due process, which would include a public participation process.

“Both applications will also be presented to the decision making authority for consideration, with the input of the user department, recreation and parks, as well as the relevant sub-council. Any lease application that the City receives follows the same prescribed procedure as determined by legislation,” the City said.

In the meantime, FC Kapstadt and Cape Town City Football Club would continue to use the fields as they had been doing in the past until the lease application process is completed.

CT City spokesperson Julian Bailey said: “We can confirm that we have followed all of the City’s due stringent processes in relation to the lease agreement. We kindly ask that you direct any further questions in this regard to the City directly.”