|Then there are the logistics and infrastructure aspects. The hotel developers have somehow managed to convince the municipality to waive the requirement for parking – so the development proposal does not include parking for hotel residents or guests to the restaurant/function facilities. But the hotel’s sales brochure rather surprisingly assures potential investors:
“Secure reserved on-site parking is available at a ratio of 1 vehicle per hotel unit.”
By normal standards, a hotel of this size would have to provide at least 20 parking bays and the only space available nearby is the Signal Hill view site. So in future, will the public have to experience the interrupted views from a private hotel parking lot?
So where do the title issues come into this? Well, the municipality does not have unfettered right to determine land use on the adjacent Signal Hill property (Erf 255), which was sold to the municipality in 1987 by the Department of Public Works and Land Affairs, and on condition that it remains public open space. Further, if it does not remain Public Open space, it must be returned to the Department of Public Works. This provision is enshrined in the Title deed.
Further, in order to develop the proposed boutique hotel, it is required that the property be rezoned from “Single residential” to “General residential.” In addition, the applicant has applied for, and surprisingly been granted, the relaxation of, and/or departure from, numerous provisions and restrictions of the Zoning Scheme, most of which had been flouted in the original build. These provisions and restrictions include all of building line departures, height restriction departures, on-site parking requirements, coverage and bulk restrictions and restriction of minimum prescribed erf size for “general residential”, as well as others.
On top of all of this is a safety concern; this incomplete building is comprised mainly of unclad and unsealed reinforced concrete and has been exposed to the harsh coastal weather for more than three decades. In the current hotel development proposal, additional stories will be built on top of the existing weather-beaten structure. Although the developer has had engineers endorse their proposal, it is, as we have mentioned, in conflict with the court order to demolish the building. This safety issue is one that not only affects the developer, the investors and future residents in the hotel, but is one that must be a critical concern for the owners of the properties further down this steep hillside, as well as for public safety officials.
At this stage, the developer has started marketing the boutique hotel, although the sales pitch is silent on most of the issues we have raised here and on which over 300 people found it necessary to object.
And yet there are still a number of hurdles that the developer has to cross in terms of conditions that have to be met, including approval of their building plans and the registering of a servitude, but these are not mentioned in the sales pitch.
Finally, this development is not without alternatives – it is common cause that the eyesore must go, but the developer has received, and rejected, far more appropriate proposals to redevelop the site safely, with elegant residential units, which would not impinge on Signal Hill or title deed or zoning scheme terms, and would fit in with the ambience of the area.
The Ratepayers Association will continue to monitor developments in the best interest of the town. It will also continue to raise objections and highlight irregularities that ignore or contravene court orders, zoning scheme regulations, title deed terms, and established municipal and council procedures. It does this to ensure ordered and legal development of the town.
Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association