River Club developers granted leave to appeal

The mixed-use River Club development started over a year ago.

The River Club developers have welcomed a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) order, granting them leave to appeal a Western Cape High Court interdict that halted the development.

Last Friday’s decision relates to Western Cape Deputy Judge President Patricia Lynette Goliath’s ruling on March 18, which slammed the brakes on the R4.6 billion development with Amazon as the anchor tenant (“High Court halts River Club development,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, March 24). She said the developers should have further meaningful engagement and consultation with the affected indigenous groups.

In a statement responding to the SCA ruling, the developers, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT), said: “This is a major win for all Capetonians who stand to benefit from the R4.6 billion development including the construction workers currently working on the site. The benefits include 6000 direct and 19 000 indirect jobs and the Cape Peninsula Khoi memorialising their cultural heritage associated with the area, including the establishment of a heritage, cultural and media centre.

“The project will also deliver developer subsidised affordable housing, safe and accessible green parks and gardens, significant road and other infrastructure upgrades in the area and the major rehabilitation of the polluted and degraded waterways adjacent to the property.

“LLPT will shortly deliver its appeal and then awaits a court date for the appeal to be heard. In the meantime, LLPT continues with work on the development.”

Meanwhile, those opposing the development – the Observatory Civic Association (OCA) and the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC) – are seeking a contempt of court order against the LLPT, accusing them of defying the interdict by resuming construction.

The LLPT deny this, saying that according to their legal advice, the high court’s ruling in March was effectively suspended pending the outcome of their application for leave to appeal (“River Club developers accused of defying court,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, July 21).

Responding to the SCA’s decision, OCA chairman Professor Leslie London said, “The supreme court has granted them leave to appeal. It does not mean the appeal is valid.”

The matter would be heard before a full bench of three judges of the Western Cape High Court on an urgent basis, he said. “If the appeal is turned down, as we believe it should, then the interdict stands.”

The contempt matter was expected to be heard by the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday July 27 but was postponed.

“This is very disappointing as there is no doubt in our minds that the ongoing construction in contempt of court and the delays in hearing the matter advantage the developers in every way,” said Professor London.

If the contempt hearing resulted in an order that construction must stop, then the developers would have to cease construction until the appeal was heard and an alternative outcome is obtained, he said.

If the SCA appeal was rejected, then that would also mean no construction until the high court review was completed, he said.

The Western Cape First Nations Collective Trust, an indigenous group that backs the development, did not respond to questions by deadline.