Residents who formed the organisation, Maiden’s Cove for All (MCA), to stand against the sale and development of Maiden’s Cove, have been granted the right to intervene the development of the area by the Western Cape High Court this week.
The case was originally brought to court by the Clifton Bungalow Owners Association (BOA) to challenge the sale of large portions of Maiden’s Cove to private developers.
MCA now supports this application and has widen the grounds of the challenge to ask for a comprehensive remedy that will force the City of Cape Town (CoCT) to involve the public from the beginning of a new process to decide how Maiden’s Cove should be developed.
In 2016, the City of Cape Town approved plans for Maiden’s Cove, which include building a boutique hotel, more than 50 private homes, a parking garage for 750 cars, and retail space as large as that of the Checkers in Sea Point. These plans were made without consulting residents or property owners in the area and have caused an uproar with locals.
MCA’s first court challenge is that the City has put the commercial cart before the constitutional and statutory horse. The Constitution and various statutes impose a clear duty on it to deal with what has been kept open for seventy years as a protected coastal open space, as a public trust.
The CoCT had no legal authority to draw up a plan on its own initiative for the sale and lease of this protected Public Open Space [POS] by the sea, and then have some public consultations on the details of the plan. It was duty bound to draw in the public from the start when deciding on how the land should be used.
Both the MCA and the BOA feel the City was also legally obliged from the beginning to engage meaningfully with the various municipal and provincial statutory bodies created to protect heritage and the environment. Instead, the CoCT has sought to dispose of the POS to private developers in terms of a commercial plan it determined itself.
The second challenge is that the CoCT did not take any meaningful steps to engage with the historical and current users of Maiden’s Cove, namely the communities of BoKaap and the Cape Flats who had been forbidden to use the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay and had made Maiden’s Cove their own.
The third challenge is that the CoCT scheme violates its legal duty to undo rather than further cement the profound racial spatial division of the city. Instead of healing the divisions of the past and creating a more just and equal society, the development would favour people who already own most of the homes close to and overlooking the sea. Conversely, the majority of Capetonians who do not live in homes with beautiful gardens and lovely views, will now have even less opportunity to exercise their right to enjoy the natural beauty of the Peninsula.