To Cllr Taki Amira,
Chair : Good Hope Sub-council
City of Cape Town
cc: CBRRA ManCo, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marga Haywood, Jean-Pierre Smith, Belinda Walker, Marius Coetsee, Gabriel Fagan
Thanks to you and Marius for the time afforded CBRRA this morning.
The points raised at the meeting are noted here, with some per orbiter comments:
1. It was agreed that the illegal manipulation of the sidewalk levels along the Medburn Rd must be removed and the sidewalk returned to the original condition that allows pedestrian traffic. The approved plan shows a 1.5m grassed walking surface, so it is quite incredible that the Planning Dept (PD) didn't insist that it be built correctly. Of course, the real truth is that if the (up to) 2m of fill is removed from the public sidewalk, the illegal height of the boundary retaining wall will be revealed. The plans should not have been approved on this aspect alone. It follows then that the levels behind the boundary wall will also have to be reduced to comply with the Zoning Scheme, which will ultimately result in the actual 3 habitable storeys not complying with the s98 height restriction. Or else, the contentious basement will have to be abandoned to allow for stepped earth platforms to achieve the required level around the building. And then the development will not have enough parking to make it legal. The sidewalk manipulation is along the entire length of the boundary retaining wall other than at the pedestrian entrance.
2. The parking area retaining wall is approximately 5m in height. As it defines the difference in height between between two levels it is subject to the provisions of s11 herequoted from the Zoning Scheme:
THE INSERTION OF THE FOLLOWING NEW SECTION AFTER CHAPTER I, SECTION 10 – 18 MAY 2007:
Section 11: Raising of ground level
Any unsupported earth banks, soil retaining structure, column, suspended floor or any other device which exceeds 2,1m in height or enables a ground floor or platform to be more than 2,1m above existing ground level shall require the Council’s consent. Where a series or number of such structures or devices are used to achieve a raised floor or platform, these shall require the Council’s consent where the cumulative height of these structures or devices exceeds 2,1m when measured horizontally over a distance of 3 m or less.
Clearly, this wall is totally illegal. Before the PD aver that the levels were substantially reduced to accommodate the parking area, the CBRRA has photographic evidence of the original ground levels, which clearly show very little excavation to the parking area.
3. With reference to s11 above, it was quite clear from the inspection of the Medburn Rd section of the boundary wall that there are two defining structures that assist in retaining earth (or creating a platform over the basement), being the boundary wall and the basement wall. These two walls are about 1.5m apart and therefore do not comply with the Scheme. This is repeated at other parts of the boundary wall.
4. The PD's dismissal of any of the features (2 swimming pools, a pond, reinforced concrete recreation terraces, massively wide entrance staircases, paved parking area for about twenty vehicles and the sub-station) constituting "built upon" in terms of the Title Deed conditions is simply disingenuous. For the PD to further add that they were unsure why the substation was there, after approving the plans depicting it, merely paints them in their true colours.
5. Ossie Gonsalves conceded that there should be at least 1m of earth fill over the basement in order for it to comply as "underground". He further had to concede that the approved plans show less than this. And the actual as built situation is in the region of 500mm. Another complete mockery of the regulations by the PD.
As it is clear that the PD are determined to preserve their approval of this building no matter how many irregularities and illegalities are pointed out to them (and have been over the past 18 months), it is up to the elected representatives of the people of Camps Bay (and, in fact, Cape Town) to stop the tail wagging the dog at City Hall. The CBRRA demands that the politicians involved in planning matters in the Good Hope SC take immediate action to rectify this situation as the PD will simply drag their feet as they have done for almost 2 years in the vain hope that their nefarious handling of this application gets forgotten and a favoured developer makes a huge profit at the expense of the community. The PD have been trying to assist the developer with this illegal development for almost 2 years now. There is a long history of the PD saying that the plans comply and then it is established that they don't. This is either unacceptable incompetence or favouritism that must be investigated.
The DA have done enough talking about the ineptitude and possible corruption on the part of other parties. It is now time that they sort out the PD mess that is under their control.
CBBRA Planning (Chair)
10 May 2010
To: Cllr Taki Amira
Chair : Good Hope Sub-council
City of Cape Town
cc: Ossie Gonsalves, Gavin van Schalkwyk, Gabriel Fagan, CBRRA ManCo
Thanks for the response and, again, we wish you a speedy and full recovery.
The Crystal situation is extremely urgent.
As you will recall, Ossie and his team were adamant that the plans were in order on the 11 Feb of this year. To this end, they convinced you of this patent untruth and were hell-bent on approving them "the next day". But even the PD should have realised that those plans did not closely comply with the Zoning Scheme, let alone the restrictive title deed conditions. There exists a deep concern at the degree of premeditation in the actions of the officials concerned.
The CBRRA can hardly be expected to rely on these self same officials to regulate the situation now. The CBRRA anticipated the outcome of this matter weeks ago when it stated that it was clear that the PD would simply approve the plans without any reference to the affected parties and then sit tight and dare the community, in the words of Fiona Ogle (at our Feb meeting), to "sue us (the City) if you like".
The CBRRA requests that you meet with it on the site at your earliest convenience (preferably by Wed) to see first hand how the public sidewalk has been unconstitutionally expropriated by the City for the benefit of the developer. This will be one of a few eye-openers for you.
The CBRRA would suggest that this is not only a planning issue but has also become a political one and requires the input of our elected representatives.
CBRRA Planning (Chair)
09 May 2010
To: Chris Willemse
CBRRA Planning (Chair)
CC: Ossie Gonsalves; CBRRA ManCo, Gavin van Schalkwyk, Gabriel Fagan
Good morning Chris,
A belated thank you to you and your committee for the good wishes and book during my recent illness, which laid me low with poor eye sight to the extent I had difficulty in reading until the end of the month of April. I then had to play catch up on accumulated work.
Therefore I have not ignored the concerns of CBBRA however as they were very technical in nature and had noted that various officials were included in the address groups, I had hoped that someone from Plans or Building Inspectorate would pick up the thread and respond to the queries.
As you have now directed the enquiry direct to me I will make a point of following this up and get advice from officials as to what is going on.
I had up and until receipt of your letter been assured that all alterations to the buildings were in accordance with approved amended plans. As there re now further issues give me sometime to look into it and communicate with you further on this issue.
Councillor - City of Cape Town
Chairperson Good Hope Sub Council (16)
Wards 54, 74 & 77
05 May 2010
To: Cllr Taki Amira; CBRRA ManCo
Chair : Good Hope Sub-council
City of Cape Town
cc: Gavin van Schalkwyk
Dear Cllr Amira
Despite the huge effort by the CBRRA to meaningfully address the numerous problems surrounding the Crystal development in Woodford Ave, Camps Bay, it is understood that the rider plans for this illegal development have been approved by the City, without further reference to the affected parties.
To date, CBRRA has only been informed of this unofficially.
The Mayor, the Executive Director of Planning and your office have studiously refused to answer our many letters directed in this regard.
Clearly, the Planning Department (which also refuses to engage with the affected community) holds absolute power in the City and is unaccountable to the political powers that be and the people it purports to serve.
CBRRA requests that it be allowed to meet with the officials who approved the plans, with CBRRA’S planning expert, to determine how such approval was granted. This must be done as a matter of urgency.
CBRRA also wishes to discuss the circumstances surrounding this application and the manner in which it was dealt with by the City, with the Good Hope Sub-council, the Mayor and the Executive Director of Planning.
CBRRA Planning (Chair)
11 April 2010
To: Gavin Van Schalkwyk
Cc: Piet Van Zyl, Taki Amira, Gregory September, Ossie Gonsalves, Marga Haywood, Jean-Pierre Smith, Dan Plato
Subject: The Crystal Development, Camps Bay
Thank you for your response - none has been received from the planning dept (PD) or any other of the addressees on CBRRA's letter of March 28th. In the absence of Cllr Amira, to whom we wish a speedy recovery, please could this matter be referred to Piet van Zyl as a matter of extreme urgency.
CBRRA yet again raises the issue of the complete lack of tranparency in the PD. Their assessment of these plans has been conducted away from public scrutiny and, to date, extremely unprofessionally and in a totally prejudicial manner to the community.
Ossie Gonsalves seems to have forgotten that, at our last meeting on 11 Feb 2010, he was adamant that the (then) plans were fully compliant and that approval would be granted the next day. Fortunately, Cllr Amira prevailed upon the PD and allowed the CBRRA to view the plans. Even at first glance, it was clear that the plans did not comply with many applicable laws. So forgive the CBRRA if it continues to contend that the latest plans cannot possibly comply or that the PD have "fully addressed" all the issues surrounding this patently illegal building operation.
Besides the obvious clear violation of the "built upon" restriction, and the five in lieu of three “floors”, CBRRA finds it beyond belief that the developer is creating a sloping fill on a public pavement on the western boundary sidewalk in an effort to hide illegal wall heights. It needs to be confirmed that the City are aware of this and that an immediate order to restore the sidewalk is issued tho the developer, with the obvious implications for the heights of walls on the boundary.
The basement roof slab on the northern portion of the site is approximately 650mm lower than the finished floor level of the ground floor of the building - which means that only about 500mm of soil can be placed on that roof. It is a preposterous contention that by dumping a bit of fill on a roof slab that it becomes "underground", especially when it is clearly higher than the existing finished ground level as defined in the Zoning Scheme. The original plans, and the the amended plans CBRRA viewed in Feb, indicated a 1m fill between the basement and the underside of the ground floor of the building.
There are many other problems regarding this development, which are well-documented, none of which have been satisfactorily answered by the PD's officials and its legal advisers.
In any event, a considerable amount of demolition of illegal work (built whilst the PD looked on) has occurred since the last meeting without CBBRA being informed of the nature thereof.
After these alterations, CBRRA is still of the opinion that the basement is illegal, as is possibly the new structure built in the building setback area on the south west corner of the site adjacent to Woodford Ave.
To summarise CBRRA's concerns:
The current development
- exceeds the maximum built-upon area of 25% stipulated in the Title Deed conditions
- has 5 floors instead of the 3 floors as permitted by the Title Deed conditions
- exceeds the height restriction as per s98 of the Zoning Scheme
- relies on a complete mis-application of Amendment 11 of the Zoning Scheme in that ground levels raised by 2.1m must continue horizontally for 3m before any further raising of the ground may occur.
- contains a basement that is clearly out of the ground
- is placing huge loads of fill on the public pavement to conceal the height of the boundary walls. This is not only illegal from a planning point of view but forces pedestrians to walk on a busy roadway.
- is being built without proper planning authority in flagrant disregard of the law (A25 of the NBR) which states that no building operation may proceed without such authority. The authority granted by the original approved plans has long been exceeded.
- is clearly in violation of s7 of the NBR
CBRRA also request the attendance of Cllrs Amira (if available), Smith and Haywood and Mr Gonsalves at this meeting.
CBRRA will also contact the Mayor Plato, as he did express a personal interest in such matters during his roadshow.
CBRRA Planning (Chair)
From: Gavin Van Schalkwyk
To: Chris Willemse Cc: Gregory September; Jaco Theron; Ossie Gonsalves
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 5:36 PM
Subject: FW: The Crystal Development, Camps Bay
Dear Mr Willemse
I am not sure whether you have received feedback to your attached letter to Councillor Amira. Councillor Amira has been hospitalised and may not have been in a position to forward a response to you.
Please see communication between the District Manager to Cllr Amira.
Gavin van Schalkwyk
Manager: Support Services
Office of The Executive Director
Strategy and Planning
From: Ossie Gonsalves
Sent: 29 March 2010 09:20 AM
To: Taki Amira; Stephen John Wilkinson; Marius Lourens; Fiona Ogle
Cc: Jaco Theron; Jean-Pierre Smith; Marga Haywood; Gregory September; Jaco Theron
Subject: RE: The Crystal Development, Camps Bay
Dear Clr Amira,
Since we last met, the rider building plans for The Crystal needed to be amended a few times due to our (and the CBRRA's) concerns regarding the basement encroaching above ground the and boundary wall being too high. This has involved a series of meetings with the architects/developer on site and in our office in order that all these concerns, as also raised in the attached letter from te CBRRA, are fully addressed.
These amendments, which involve the demolition of certain boundary walls and parts of the basement and the relocation of the entrance, are in progress on site.
The further amended rider plans were returned last week and a report is in the process of being compiled by Marius Lourens, the City's BCO, in order that the plan is recommended for approval.
The rider plan will therefore be approved this week, if all the issues raised have been addressed and the plan is deemed to be in accordance with all applicable laws.
I have asked the building inspector, Stephen Wilkinson to investigate the issue of working on Sundays and the loose sand blowing onto the neighbour's property, which he will be following up today on.
I will also be seeking advice from our Legal Advisor on responding to the attached letter, especially with regard to the press releases involving the 'last two' court cases referred to in the letter.
District Manager - Table Bay District
Planning & Building Development Management
26 MARCH 2010
Cllr. D. Amira (Chair : Good Hope Subcouncil, City of Cape Town)
Dear Cllr Amira,
THE CRYSTAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE HARRISON CASE, CAMPS BAY
It is now many weeks since we met with you in respect of The Crystal. The CBRRA responded immediately to the purported compliance of the plans shown to it at the meeting of 12th February 2010 (the following day). It is clear that the City's Planning Dept (PD) must agree with our assessment that the plans still do not comply with all applicable law, otherwise it would have approved the plans as it said it would on the 15th February 2010. The CBRRA notes your referring the answering of our observations in respect of The Crystal plans to Ossie Gonsalves, of the PD.
No response has been forthcoming from him and the building continues to rush towards completion. This building cannot be certified as being complete by the City until all illegal work has been rectified and you have passed the plans.
Since that date we are told of City officials’ visits to site, the erection of a (further illegal?) structure on the southeast corner in the setback line (for unknown use), the reduction in heights of completed isolated concrete screen walls and slabs on the western façade (so something must have been illegally constructed).
CBRRA finds this ongoing lack of transparency on the City’s behalf unacceptable and inexplicable. Yet again CBRRA is not being communicated with and planning decisions are being made and acted upon behind closed doors. CBRRA is also informed that there will be filling along the front of the isolated structural concrete walls all along the western Woodford Road boundary to somehow “legitimise” these walls and the basement.
While the City may consider this an acceptable operation to a height not exceeding 2.1m vertically, CBRRA hereby respectfully points out that this intended filling cannot be placed on Council property over the present unmade Council-owned pavement width adjacent to the road. This is currently being done and must be stopped.
While the cutting down of the isolated screen walls on the western elevation is correct and is to be welcomed, CBRRA again points out that the act of this height reduction simply exposes the illegal façade of the basement structure behind. The PD is of the opinion that the filling behind the reduced isolated screen walls can be placed with a sloping top surface up to the roof of the illegal basement behind, thus legalising it.
This is completely incorrect, as the definition of the critical amendments will show.
The 3m distance between the 2.1m level adjustments MUST be horizontal and not raking as the PD contends. Your Environmental Department disagrees with the PD in this respect.
This is where the City has got itself into an impossible dilemma in this matter and CBRRA would like to be told what is going to be done to properly legalise the structure and why the Contractor has been allowed to practically complete the whole project in the year since the rider plans were submitted and not passed to this date.
The CBRRA refers you to National Building Regulations A25 and once again requests that the City act within the legal parameters of the law.
You reported at your recent press release meeting that CBRRA has lost the Supreme Court of Appeal case in the Harrison matter.
Whereas this may be true, we bring the following points to your attention:
• The last two court cases in this matter have both completely ignored the whole issue on which the Cape High Court ruled in our favour in the first Harrison case in respect of from where heights of Camps Bay buildings must be measured (i.e. existing finished ground level – i.e. before raising. So, in effect, CBRRA did not “lose” this contention and this cannot be used as an argument by the City in the Crystal project or be used in future for now. (See below).
• The subsequent critical amendments redefinition of “ground Level”, to which your Senior Counsel refers, resulted directly from this first Harrison court case in which Ms Acting Justice Meer supported CBRRA’s definition of ground level as above, which definition currently is still valid to this day.
• It is important for the City to be aware that the CBRRA has submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court in the Harrison matter, appealing against the last judgement and has issued a press release as set out below.
• In the meantime, the inexplicable lack of communication from your PD officials in respect of the unpassed plans for the Crystal continues to mystify us and we again request another meeting to clarify matters on this project which, in CBRRA’s opinion, continues to be entirely illegal consequent upon the basement having been raised and “forced “ by isolated screen retaining walls exceeding legal heights, the structure having five not three floors contrary to the title deeds, the report of John Van Der Spuy’s proving that it has derogated the values of adjacent affected properties, the west facades being in excess of 10metres above natural existing ground level and the contravention of the “built upon” title deed restriction.
• The CBRRA hereby registers its disagreement with the legal responses produced by the City in response to Adv D. Irish’s and Mr J. van der Spuys’s opinions.
• It is obvious that we are not getting the required responses from the PD and now request that we meet with you and the senior officials of the PD in order to achieve progress in this matter and attempt to finalise this regrettable state of affairs.
Lastly, the Crystal Developers are working loudly on demolition and concreting work on Sundays, which is illegal regardless of the work being done. They are also not keeping the sand on their site from blowing over adjacent properties which is highly inconveniencing adjacent affected neighbours.
Please instruct your Building Inspector to inform them of the above illegality and forbid them from so doing in the future and instruct them to control the movement of sand.
Chairperson: Planning Subcommittee
cc Mayor D. Plato, Cllrs. M. Haywood, J-P. Smith, Messrs. P. van Zyl, J Theron, O. Gonzalves, G.Setember and Ms F. Ogle
CBRRA PRESS RELEASE 22 March 2010 Supreme Court of Appeal Ruling in the Harrison Matter