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Sunday, 7 November 2010

Press Release: Concourt ruling in Harrison Matter

The CBRRA is disappointed that the Constitutional Court has dismissed its appeal against the Supreme Court of Appeal judgement in this matter.

The SCA had found, as a matter of fact, that the plans approved by the City of Cape Town did not comply with the Zoning Scheme on at least one critical point. But this Court ruled that this contravention was raised in reply rather than in founding papers and would not condone the point, making it a legal technical decision. However, given the real situation on the ground, where the City have, according to the SCA, incorrectly approved plans, the CBRRA and its co-applicant continue to feel justified in bringing this action, both in the public interest and the promotion of proper City governance.

CBRRA stresses that the contention by the Courts, that this is merely a dispute between neighbours, is not the situation – CBRRA embarked on this course of action because it believed that the approval of the plans contravened both Zoning Scheme regulations and Title Deed restrictions and that the application was in the general public interest.

Of course, the Constitutional Court is clearly the end of the line legally and the CBRRA must, and will, abide by its decision.

CBRRA has long fought, what it considers, the City Planning Department’s inequitable planning approval process. To date, the CBRRA has successfully challenged the City planners’ approval process in 7 cases.

Excluding the technical legal point in this case, that might have been eight. This is CBRRA’s first unsuccessful application.

CBRRA will continue to fight against the City’s frequently incorrect and inconsistent planning approval process. The number of other cases brought successfully against the City in other suburbs suggests that civic action of this nature is both necessary and in the general interest of the ratepayers of Cape Town.

CHRIS WILLEMSE
CHAIR : CBRRA

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7 November 2010

Letter to the Atlantic Sun
The Courts seemed very pre-occupied with the idea that this was a fight between neighbours and generally seemed to disregard CBRRA's contention that planning laws were being contravened and due process not followed.

In fact, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that the High Court had erred in not ruling that the building did not comply with the Zoning Scheme in one very important aspect, but then refused to find it a ground for review because it ruled that the objection had been raised at too late a stage. This is devastating for CBRRA because it means that the plans shouldn't have been approved in the first place but now, due to legal technicalities, an illegal buiilding will be allowed to be built.

CBRRA was always confident of their case and rightfully so, given the SCA decision. CBRRA didn't expect that the failure of the City planning department to properly approve the plans would be less important than the belief that we took sides in a petty fight between two neighbours.

Certainly, nobody makes money out of losing court battles but most of the application has been funded to date by CBRRA's so-called "war-chest" and various benefactors who contributed funds specifically for this purpose. CBRRA will consider the remaining costs as they arise out of the taxing bill and deal with it accordingly.

The CBRRA remains totally committed to its mandate to serve and protect the community and suburbs of Camps Bay, Clifton and Bakoven without fear or favour. There is no plan to disband and/or reconstitute the Association and I am personally confident that we enjoy the support of the majority of residents and ratepayers of this community. The incredible amount of work that the Manco of the CBRRA do on a voluntary basis is appreciated.

The 7 cases that CBRRA have successfully prosecuted against the City planners has had a major effect on the built environment of the suburb and, in fact, the City as a whole. CBRRA cases are quoted as case law in so many instances throughout the country.

Clearly, that was money well spent. That CBRRA lost this case on legal technicalities is a bitter pill to swallow but must not daunt us from continuing to strive for a City planning department that is fair and equitable and doesn't destroy the very fabric of our community. Essentially, the elected officials have to intervene in this matter as it is ultimately their mandate to ensure good governance in the City.

CBRRA is currently involved as a co-applicant in three matters before the High Court. In all three, temporary interdicts have already been granted against the respondents pending final review of the plans.

Anthony "Buddy' Herman can be reached on 021 4191450 (work).

CHRIS WILLEMSE
CHAIR : CBRRA

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10 November 2010

The Editor
Cape Times

Dear Sir


The Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association (CBRRA) deems it necessary to respond to your article on the Camps Bay house “sea view” saga (Cape Times Nov 5th), to both contextualise the matter and better inform the ratepayers and residents of this City.

The CBRRA is disappointed that the Constitutional Court dismissed its appeal against the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgement in this matter.

However, the SCA had found, as a matter of fact, that the plans approved by the City of Cape Town did not comply with the Zoning Scheme on at least one critical point. But the SCA ruled that this contravention was raised in replying- rather than in founding papers and would not condone the alleged delay, making it a legal technical decision. However, given the real situation on the ground, where the City have, according to the SCA, incorrectly approved plans, the CBRRA and its co-applicant continue to feel justified in bringing this action, both in the public interest and the promotion of proper City governance.

The issue of “a fight between neighbours over a view” merely serves to trivialise a real problem facing all property owners in this City: The inability, or unwillingness, of the City’s planning department to properly and correctly assess planning applications. The recent High Court ruling in the Bantry Bay case and numerous problem cases in Camps Bay serve to underline this point. However, the WC High Court, in this matter, rejected the case made by the CBRRA regarding important issues pertaining to the interpretation and execution of planning law. CBRRA feels that this was an opportunity lost to clarify some very vague and contradictory planning laws. Given the SCA’s ruling though, it is quite clear that an illegal structure has been condoned.

CBRRA embarked on this course of action because it believed that the approval of the plans contravened both Zoning Scheme regulations and Title Deed restrictions and that this legal application was in the general public interest. The City, instead of not opposing the application and agreeing to abide by the ruling of the Court, as it normally does, took the unprecedented step of entering a legal battle against ratepayers - using ratepayers’ money. This is extremely concerning. The fact that its planning department had it wrong in the first place is particularly galling to those citizens who have devoted an enormous amount of time and money to the case – and the cause.

CBRRA has long fought, what it considers, the City Planning Department’s inequitable planning approval process. The CBRRA has successfully challenged the City planners’ approval process in all 7 cases brought to date. Excluding the technical legal point in this case, that might have been eight.

CBRRA will continue to fight against the City’s frequently incorrect and inconsistent planning approval process. The number of other cases brought successfully against the City in other suburbs suggests that civic action of this nature is both necessary and in the general interest of the ratepayers of Cape Town.

CHRIS WILLEMSE
CHAIR : CBRRA