Palm House appeal upheld

Palm House.

A group of Kenilworth and Wynberg residents is “celebrating” after a Heritage Western Cape (HWC) appeals committee took the decision to uphold its appeal on the proposed development of a five-storey luxury apartment block on the site of the Palm House guest house.

The residents, who have vehemently opposed the proposal on the grounds they had not been properly consulted and the plans flouted zoning regulations, believe the decision will send a message to developers that without obtaining feedback from all affected parties, developments may not go ahead.

The decision of the HWC appeals committee is based in part on the residents introducing several documents which showed 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 the decision, dated October 5, HWC chief executive Mxolisi Dlamuka said the public participation process had been largely limited to comment from registered conservation bodies.

“The affected persons (residents) had not been been provided with a reasonable opportunity to participate in the HIA (heritage impact assessment) process.

“Accordingly, the HIA process undertaken in connection with the proposed development cannot be construed as being compliant with … the National Heritage Resources Act,” he said.

Mr Dlamuka said the committee made no finding on whether or not development rights had been awarded in a manner which would permit the lawful undertaking of the proposed development.

However, a letter from heritage practitioner Chris Snelling, which confirmed that the HIA report he had submitted to HWC could not be considered as complete, meant that the committee had “no alternative” but to conclude that the HIA failed to satisfy the requirements of the act.

This letter related to the residents’ documents on the 1990 rezoning application. Mr Dlamuka said as such the appeal was upheld, and a fresh application would be have to be submitted to HWC.

The decision was also subject to an appeal period of 21 working days.

Palm House owner Paul Scarlett and developer Matthew Quinton did not respond to queries on whether they would be appealing the decision, or whether a new application would be submitted to HWC.

The residents’ representative, Barnett Herdien, said while residents were “celebrating” the decision, they would be “watching and waiting” to see if it would be appealed or a new application made.

“It has been hard work and not pleasant work, gathering all the information for our appeal,” Mr Herdien said.

“I think a lot of people are unaware of the effects of a lack of consultation. If you are not consulted, you don’t know what is going to be developed.

“We would hope that if others object to a development, they will use a lack of consultation as their first point of departure, because it seems to be happening a lot these days.”