Published in the Atlantic Sun 30th Anniversary edition 1 Sept 2011
Established at the beginning of the twentieth century, Camps Bay and environs developed very slowly from being a holiday camping resort located around Central Drive to a sleepy dormitory suburb which, by the 1980s, was in a bedraggled and disco-ordinated state through which most people drove to somewhere else. In peoples’ mind, the wind blew too hard and the water was far too cold! Up to 1980, very few properties in Camps Bay changed hands for over R 100 000.
In the early 1980s, the huge and then legal Sonnekus apartment block was constructed to residents’ absolute horror when they discovered that the whole of the Camps Bay beachfront area permitted seven storeys buildings and we could have another Sea Point on our doorstep unless something was done about this.
It took the Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association (CBRRA) three years to get the City Council to amend its planning zoning scheme to reduce the maximum heights of buildings in Camps Bay to not exceeding 10 metres above ground level to eaves and lower in Bakoven.
However, at that time, a Developer had already submitted an application to the City Council to demolish the Rotunda Hotel and the very historic adjacent Rotunda ballroom erected in 1904 as a concert hall and tea room and to erect a massive new apartment block over the whole site. At this stage CBRRA took matters into it own hands and, after considerable discussions with residents, persuaded the City Council to:
1. Expropriate the Rotunda site and buildings,
2. Demolish the nearby ugly and seldom-used Civic Centre
3. Relocate the Caltex Garage away from the intersection at the bottom of Camps Bay Drive with Victoria Road to enable traffic lights to be installed there.
4. Consolidate the existing land the Council owned in the vicinity and invite a public proposal call for designs and cash offers for the whole site which now embraced all the above. CBRRA wrote the specification for the tenders and was co-opted onto the judging committee to help the Council choose the winning proposal.
The current Bay Hotel and the shopping complex was the result and the tender was won by Developers Equikor Ltd who sold the shopping complex to the Pretoria Municipal Pension Fund who added to it as did the Solomon Brothers who subsequently purchased it while the Bay Hotel was purchased by Maree Brink. At the same time CBRRA persuaded the Council to double the area of the soccer fields by altering the one small east – west field into two north-south fields.
The sum total of all the above was that a completely modernised central business district was created for Camps Bay and the previously quiet village has since then expanded its population dramatically and property values have sky – rocketed to a degree that the whole area stretching from Clifton to Bakoven now contains arguably the most coveted residential real estate properties in the country, with their unequalled beaches the jewels in the crown of Cape Town’s tourist industry.
CBRRA’s most sincere aim is to ensure that the rebuilding and densification of the residential component o these beautiful suburbs over the forthcoming years will be executed in a sensitive manner which will fit in with the existing built environment to the benefit of existing and new owners alike.
Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association.