Bitou Ward 2 report back on disposal of landJune 5, 2023
Water Restrictions And Safe Drinking WaterJune 13, 2023
Many of our members have asked for a report back on the Ward 2 councillor’s meeting held on 8 June to discuss the proposed disposal of municipal properties, including open spaces.
The meeting was very well attended with more than 200 residents.
Municipal Manager Memani indicated that the municipality had received over 600 emails of opposition to their proposed sale of public open spaces, but he considered all but 8 to be irrelevant. Residents expressed dismay at this statement, to the point of objection.
He impressed upon the meeting that a public participation process was not required, apparently as the individual properties are valued below the R50 million threshold set by the Asset Transfer Regulations for “high value” assets. Nevertheless, the municipality deemed it necessary to obtain public comment. However, Bitou’s own policy states that “high value” is defined as R500,000 for property transfer.
Ludolph Gericke, Manager, Town Planning, stated that the Provincial Spatial Development Frame Work discourages “urban spread” and favours densification and, by implication, that the framework obliges the municipality to develop the open and under-utilized spaces. He further expounded on historical aspects of urban development in Plettenberg Bay and on various problematical town planning issues, that were not immediately relevant to the current issues.
The meeting was informed that ERF 256 had already been “allocated” to an entity in 2008, in which entity a previous Speaker had an interest, but the “allocation” had since lapsed.
The municipality will again proceed with considering the disposal of a portion of this property, where it is proposed that some 6000 sq m would be subdivided into a 2000 sq m portion and 15 small residential erven. Considerable opposition was expressed by residents on this proposed disposal, citing the value of well used, but scarce public open spaces, the significance of Longstone Drive as a route to areas to the south and east and the limited access, on plans, to the proposed small erven, as well as the negative impact such a development would have on the value of surrounding properties.
For the purposes of disposal, the municipality has split this Erf into what it calls 1725 A and 1725 B.
ERF 1725 A. (bordered by Longships, Fowley Rock and Pachena Point)
This erf was “allocated” approximately 15 years ago at the same time and by the same process as ERF 256 was allocated. In the intervening 15 years, the entity to whom it was allocated has not progressed the development further.
The MM informed the meeting that in this case the allocation has NOT expired. He was repeatedly asked how that can be possible after 15 year and when the ERF 256 allocation made at the same time and ostensibly upon the same conditions had expired. He steadfastly ignored the question. He “identified” the party as a “Plett developer”.
The entity that has been allocated this property is identified as “A&G Developments CC.” Council “confirmed” the 2008 allocation at its meeting held in October 2022. (C/6/59/10/22) but strangely they recorded the entity as “A & N Developments CC”. A CIPC search indicates that neither entity exists.
A scale model of the proposed development, a 3 story block of flats, was presented to the meeting.
Considerable opposition was expressed by residents to this proposed development, which if completed will have a massive impact on the adjoining property ERF 1727 (Marrakesh) who for the past 50 years have had access to their garages through this property. Removal of access to garages and to parking as well as to adjacent open space, stands to have a significant adverse affect on the market value of Marrakesh owners’ properties.
Further opposition was raised over the municipality’s intention to dispose of this property at the 2008 prices, which are likely to be considerably less than current market prices, thus is devoid of commercial logic, and would represent a financial loss to the municipality.
ERF 1725 B (bordered by Longships, Jument and Pachena Point)
The Erf is best described as the children’s play park off Longships and adjacent to Bell Rock and Pachena Place. The proposed development of a Food Lover’s Market on this property and the loss of an area of green belt and a children’s playground was vehemently opposed by residents. After numerous questions and objections, the MM eventually revealed that, due to logistical service delivery problems identified by the municipality, it would be recommended to Council that Erf 1725 B be removed from the disposal list.
Generally, residents expressed concerns about the intention of the municipality to reduce open spaces and parks and on a perceived lack of understanding by the community on the municipality’s logic and policy on the disposal of properties. Further, requests were made that the municipality improve the procedures and communication methods that are followed by the municipality in such instances as this property disposal process.
It was requested that the municipality should prioritise retaining public open spaces over a preoccupation with municipal processes, legislation requirements.
The Ratepayer’s Association has requested the mayor provide copies of the agreements for Erf 256 and Erf 1725 A between Bitou Municipality and the intended purchasing parties, as well as detailed information on the party to whom Erf 1725 A has been allocated.
We await the final decision on the three properties in Ward 2 which will be decided by Council at the 29 June meeting.
Steve Pattinson, Chairman
Stuart Comline, Town Planning Portfolio Manager