Disposal of municipal property

March 24, 2023
Chairman’s Report
April 4, 2023

Disposal of municipal property

Dear Members,

YOUR URGENT ATTENTION IS NEEDED.  A notice was put in the “Whats New” In Plett on 16 March, informing the public that the municipality planned to sell 17 properties in Bitou and that the public has 14 days to respond. This is contrary to the standard 30 days.  Properties range from a children’s playground at the corner of Longships and Jument, a public open space at the corner of Longships and Fowley Rock, and Longstone Drive in front of Quik-Spar plus a portion of the adjoining park.  These are Ward 2 public open spaces that the public has been able to enjoy for over 60 years, and now they intend to sell them without telling us why and how the sale process will happen. More importantly, their notice of intent was not broadly communicated and there is insufficient time for us time to respond properly.  A number of other properties in New Horizons, Kurland and Kranshoek are also affected, and which we are busy conferring with the communities.

The issue is more than time however. Disposing of public land is complex and requires comprehensive consultation with ward committees and IAPs, (interested and affected parties) including current land users and, where applicable, adjoining neighbours. That is the minimum requirement for any other IAP process by a developer. In this case the municipality, in effect, holds these properties in trust for the residents and has a responsibility to those residents.

We are concerned that the municipality has not done sufficient research into these properties. The municipality describes Erf 117 in Kurland as designated for a “church”, and described it as “undeveloped and vacant”. There is a church that has been there for about 20 years and has an active congregation who were totally unaware that the land is being sold, and will be lodging an objection.

The demographics in Plett South have changed with many more children now, as evidenced by the demand on primary schools. The only playground that exists is one the municipality wants to sell.

We have made the Mayor and Municipal Manager aware that more time is required, but so far they have not agreed to extend the deadline for the participation process.

Residents’ rights to the continued enjoyment of parks, and in some instances, the infringment on the rights of certain properties and their values, are affected. It is therefore something that cannot be rushed.

The disposal of public land has broad implications for the residents of the wards. This cries out for input from the public, most of whom are unaware.

We appeal to you to write to your mayor and officials and voice your concerns that you want a comprehensive public participation process as is required, and whether you disagree with the principle of selling public open space.

The Municipal manager is calling for comments by end of Thursday, 30 March.  Please email your opposition or concerns to: sdupreez@plett.gov.za, and copy the mayor dswart@plett.gov.za and the municipal manager at mmemani@plett.gov.za.

Steve Pattinson