Observatory residents are vowing to fight a soccer club’s R250 million development bid to turn the old Hartleyvale football grounds into a 10 000-seater stadium.
If the feelings of the 50-odd people at a public meeting held by Observatory Civic Association this week reflect broader community sentiment, then Cape Town City Football Club could face a tough battle getting its proposal into the net.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) side’s proposal was the only issue on the evening’s agenda.
The civic association’s leaders told Tuesday night’s meeting at the Observatory Town Hall that Cape Town City’s proposal covers an area of 37 000m2and would see the rundown Hartleyvale Stadium, on the corner of Liesbeek Parkway and Station Road, revamped to hold 10 000 spectators and a possible retail component.
The plan would also include training facilities and synthetic turfs at Malta Park, opposite the stadium.
The meeting heard Cape Town City wanted to start construction by the end of the year so the project could be ready for the 2019 football season.
The City of Cape Town entered into a lease agreement with the club for Hartleyvale Stadium and Malta Park B earlier this year. It is valid for two years and 11 months. The club is paying
R8 500 a month plus VAT, escalating at 8% a year.
Observatory Civic Association chairman, Tauriq Jenkins, said the City council had not consulted residents over the plan. Noise, traffic, lighting, community safety and other issues all needed to be explored.
“To my understanding, the City has not received or endorsed any plans for this stadium. Cape Town City has not played open cards with the Observatory community and we must try and put a halt on this development,” Mr Jenkins said.
There was a barrage of questions from the floor.
Observatory’s Simone Adams said: “This proposal sounds insane and simply ridiculous. It’s not beneficial for our community, and I can only hear ‘ching ching’ for the owners of this club or the applicants. How will they get away with adding a 10 000-seater stadium in this area, surely there will be an impact on traffic and it would make life so miserable for the locals.”
Ms Adams was also saddened to hear of the possibility of the Malta Park space being occupied by the club as well.
“The City is considering giving a business 37 000m2 of land, kicking the residents off and allowing a business to make money off something that benefited our well-being. How much more ridiculous can this possibly get?”
Another resident jumped up in the meeting and yelled: “We must not allow this to happen in our community. Even if it means we must chain ourselves to the fencing, but this simply cannot be passed.”
George Schlupp is another resident who felt like the City was trying to gain some ground by allowing a private company to develop the space on such a short-lease.
“The City will receive a brand-new stadium on their grounds, not a cent will come from their pockets. All they need to do is allow the club access and keep them happy. This whole matter sounds a bit off, because if a whole community is against this, why is it being allowed to go ahead or even considered.”
He said Observatory needed some upliftment, but the City was “privatising” public space.
“Taking away from the public, giving it to a private entity and not considering the very people who use that space daily, basically says a lot,” he said.
Residents were also upset with the R8 500 a month Cape Town City is paying.
One resident stood up and said: “The civic association is charged more by the City to rent a little parking space behind the Spar. Here they intend on basically giving away 37 000m2 for R8 500? This is pure madness!”
Mr Jenkins liked a suggestion from the floor calling on the public to see the proposal as a positive for Observatory, as many of the facilities and fields were in a rundown state.
“We could possibly end up thinking of a way to bring residents or locals into the planning. Obs is not against development, but we are against a certain type of development,” he said.
FC Kapstadt chairman and founding member, Zaid Omar, has been fighting the proposal, which he believes threatens his club, sandwiched between the circus and Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium.
The club had applied to the City to hold a demonstration in the streets during peak-hour traffic, using the players, staff and supporters from the club. “They are looking to make the stadium financially viable at the expense of people who use the facility nearly every day,” Mr Omar said, adding that they might approach the courts to stop the plan.
“We all must stand together to fight this thing. We are the only club that has stood up against Cape Town City thus far.”
Ward councillor Paddy Chapple said there was no application before council to develop the stadium as there was a court case currently challenging the lease, from FC Kapstadt and the results would determine the future.
“As there is no application to develop the stadium, and until there is one, I have no comment,” he said.
Cape Town City FC said its chairman, John Commitis, was out of the country at the moment and was unavailable to comment.