Ignorance is bliss

 

Cape Times
OpEd
August 26, 2014

THE city council’s approval last week of a 100-seater restaurant in Noordhoek at the start of Chapman’s Peak Drive was made in the face of strong and well reasoned public opposition.

Central to the public’s objection was that by allowing such a development, the city council would go against its own planning policies.
The proposal conflicts with Cape Town’s spatial development framework’s principles in several respects, not the least of which is that the public good should prevail over private interests. This was ignored.

It conflicts with the district plan’s development guidelines, which state conventional development outside the urban edge should be excluded. This was ignored. It conflicts with the development guidelines for the area which state that future business development should be concentrated in those areas zoned for business. This was ignored.

There were 81 public objections, two of which came from civic groups representing hundreds of members. In addition, a UCT economics professor did a study which found that the development would not contribute to job creation in any significant way – and would detract from the area’s tourist potential.

It was not just the public which held that the proposal should be turned down. In March the developer’s application was considered by the spatial planning, environment and land use management committee which recommended the proposal be turned down in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance. This too was ignored. The mayoral committee approved the application and councillors voted in favour of it.

If this were a one-off incident, it would be easier to accept, but it is not. It is part of a worrying pattern that is emerging in the city’s decision-making which not only rides roughshod over public opinion, but rides roughshod over its own policies. This was the case in the council’s decisions last year when it approved two developments outside the urban edge: the massive WesCape housing development and a huge housing development on Philippi farmlands.

What is directing council’s decision-making? It is quite clearly not its own policies, nor is it the city’s specialist committees, nor is it public opinion.

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