Residents objecting to the development of a luxury five-storey apartment block on the site of the Palm House guest house in Wynberg have received what appears to be a shot in the arm after the expert drawing up the draft heritage impact assessment (HIA) said he would not oppose their notice of appeal.
This comes after the residents introduced several documents to Heritage Western Cape which shows that, in a rezoning application in 1990, it was established that the previous owners of the Palm House property could not build other dwellings on the site, nor could they extend the current dwellings beyond two storeys high (“Residents question Palm House developers,” Tatler, August 25).
In response to the notice of appeal received by Heritage Western Cape, heritage practitioner Chris Snelling said he would not be opposing the appeal after being made aware of these restrictions.
Mr Snelling wrote: “When entering into agreement to undertake the HIA at the very start of the Section 38 process I had specifically asked the entity responsible for the development and its representatives, on more than one occasion, as to whether there were any rezoning or other restrictions in place that I need be aware of.I was assured at the time that there were none.
“Prior to my engagement, the application had already been submitted to the City of Cape Town on September 15 2015. Neither Land Use Management nor any other party responsible for the development appear to have picked up or informed that there were restrictions.”
He added there were no restrictions referred to in any of the documentation he had requested or been provided with by the developer’s representatives.
“I took this information at face value and in good faith.
“I have subsequently been made aware that there were indeed rezoning restrictions in place, which had placed various limitations on the property which, among others, included height restrictions.
“Having only now received this information, I cannot with any conscience consider the HIA that I conducted as being complete…”
Mr Snelling has subsequently informed the developer, Matthew Quinton, that he was no longer in a position to represent him further in respect of the application.
“Whether unintentional, in good faith, or otherwise, I regard the non-disclosure of important and relevant material to me as serious,” he said.
The residents’ representative, Barnett Herdien, welcomed Mr Snelling’s comments, but said they would not cease campaigning against the development or any others that might be proposed.
“We feel vindicated in a sense, but we believe the system is against us as residents.
“There appears to be loose interpretations of zoning restrictions, and we for that reason we mustn’t think that we can take our foot off the pedal.”
He believed that there was a “strong leaning” towards development in Cape Town, and that this frequently put residents at a disadvantage.
Questions sent to Palm House owner Paul Scarlett, Mr Quinton, Mr Snelling and Heritage Western Cape’s Andrew September had not been responded to by the time this edition went to print.