More opposition to racecourse development

The City has dismissed appeals against the development of 500 homes, a hotel and retail stores at Kenilworth Racecourse.

A Kenilworth group plans to fight a City of Cape Town decision that opens the door to developers wanting to build on land near an eco sanctuary.

The City has dismissed appeals to halt development plans at Kenilworth Racecourse.

Residents opposed to the development formed the Kenilworth Racecourse Environmental Action Group (KREAG) at a meeting on Wednesday August 22.

The development would see the construction of 500 homes, a hotel and shops, which residents fear will destroy indigenous flora and fauna (“Hotel and 500 houses for racecourse,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, June 8 2017).

The Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area (KRCA) is regarded as one of the last and best examples of Cape Sand Fynbos remaining on the Cape Peninsula, with more than 300 indigenous plant species identified, of which 34 are listed as Red Data species.

Objections to the development cited traffic congestion, loss of privacy due to the high-rise flats, and the visual and environmental impact.

The mayor’s advisory panel (MAP) dismissed the appeals in February, but objectors only learnt of that decision recently.

Documents outlining the reason for the decision say proposed road upgrades will prevent traffic congestion; heritage won’t be threatened and there is adequate infrastructural capacity, among other reasons.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said of the 302 submissions for intervener status, 281 were ruled invalid and 21 valid.

Ecologist Dr Clive McDowell, who has been researching and protecting the Kenilworth natural area, said he had only found out about the panel’s decision after making an enquiry at the end of July.

Dr McDowell previously told Southern Suburbs Tatler that the proposed development had been poorly advertised. He has also questioned how the development had not been subject to a standard integrated environmental management (IEM) procedure.

“The City had a moral and legal responsibility to notify all objectors,” he said.

Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei was one of the organisations that submitted a valid appeal.

Its chairman, Sidney Jacobs, said: “We note the decision with concern and trust that the City will take all required steps to resolve the conservation status of this invaluable site.”

Mr Herron said the notification process was taking time due to the number of parties who needed to be notified of the decision as well as other applications related to other properties that were being processed by the department.

“The decision letters are being sent out in batches, and this takes time, given the number of parties who need to be notified. The applicant and the appellants whose appeals were considered as valid have already been notified,” he said.

Mr Herron said, according to the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, any proceedings for judicial review had to be instituted 180 days after the date on which the person concerned was informed of the administrative action.

“Given that the interested and affected parties received/will receive their notifications on different dates, it is impossible to provide a generic date applicable to all of those interested and affected parties. Thus, the applicable date as to when the 180 days will lapse will differ from interested party to interested party, depending on when they have been notified,” he said.

Dr McDowell said they would be looking at their options in terms of the appeal.

Kreag will have a public meeting on this issue on Monday September 3, at Novalis Ubuntu Institute in Kenilworth at 6.30pm.

Dr David Gwynne-Evans will present on the flora of Kenilworth, followed by an overview by five panel members from Kreag. There will be a question and answer session and a motion will be proposed, calling for suggestions on how to proceed.

Entry will be free, and participants have been encouraged to take demonstration placards and cash for donations.