Dear Councillors Badroodien and Chapple
Request for a consultative process for the future of the Malta Park and Hartleyvale precincts
- I write on behalf of the Observatory Civic Association to request the City initiate a public consultation over a precinct plan for the sites including the Hartleyvale Precinct and Malta Park areas, which constitute part of the Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP).
- We do so on the basis that this land is currently zoned either as Open Space (Malta Park) or Community Zone 1 (Hartleyvale), the latter intended primarily for local community use. We are also aware that the lease currently held by Cape Town City Football Club for land that is zoned Community Zone 1 comes to an end in December this year and that it should not be renewed without an open discussion and joint planning for a precinct plan. We are unclear if the City has already developed plans, as implied in its Media Release of 12th August 2020.
- Also included in the Hartleyvale Precinct is the old Circus School premises, situated at 2 Willow Road, for which the City has not been transparent about its intentions for further use thereof.
- We have seen the Municipal Planning Tribunal recently take a decision to rezone the River Club from Open Space to Mixed Use despite tens of thousands of objection and believe this will not only severely compromise the integrity of the TRUP but may signal further piecemeal dismantling of what is an important community resources and green lung for the City. The recent ObsID survey of residents also highlighted the important value attached by Observatory residents to the land alongside the Liesbeek. It is clear, therefore, that the area is of great important to residents who want to participate in the process of planning how the precinct development will be handled in future.
- The involvement of communities in municipal planning and governance is clearly described under Section 16(1) of the Municipal Systems Act, 32 of 2000, which outlines in detail the obligations placed on municipalities with regards to transparency, accountability and the creation of conditions for the local community to participate in municipal affairs. We therefore believe it is incumbent on the City to facilitate a process of consultation with all relevant stakeholders with an interest in the development of the precinct.
- We previously wrote to you on the 1st April 2019 to ask about the City’s plans for the precinct as it affected 2 Willow Rd, but because such engagement was refused, were forced to seek out this information under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The response to our PAIA request, submitted on 1st May 2020 was again refused on the basis that the “it is reasonably expected that the disclosure of this information will frustrate the deliberative process” related to “discussions and meetings between relevant parties and officials in various departments of the City of Cape Town … for the purpose of reaching finality regarding the issues of the tenants on the premises under discussion.”
- On the 14th of August 2020, we wrote again to Cllr Chapple, requesting a meeting with you and Cllr Badroodien to discuss the future of 2 Willow Road. You wrote back once again refusing to meet with us on grounds we believe to be spurious. This continued refusal to engage with the Observatory Civic Association and the residents of Observatory is deeply concerning and prevents the community from having a legitimate say over the future of this precinct. It is also inconsistent with the need for the City to be transparent over its planning processes, particularly involving land zoned for Community use.
- We have not seen any evidence of a deliberative process and we have not heard any further about a precinct plan for 2 Willow Road or the precinct in general. Given that the Two Rivers Local Spatial Development Framework is currently being revised in a public participation process, it would seem entirely appropriate to focus on the precincts so as to feed in community input to any future LSDF.
- We do not believe it is in the best interests of the City nor the community to remain intransigent about meeting to discuss the future of the precinct, nor to delay such consultation any longer. There is absolutely no plausible reason not to engage with the community over the future of the precinct.
- As we indicated in our newsletter of 21st August, the OCA is committed to developing
- Our request is therefore that the City immediately share with us the information we requested in our previous 2019 PAIA application for 2 Willow Road which we requested last year, as well as any full, detailed and updated plans regarding the future planed use of the entire Hartleyvale and Malta Park precincts. This information needs to be specific and comprehensive.
- Additionally, we request the City convene a process of public participation with the Observatory Civic Association and other relevant stakeholders such that a development plan for the precinct is co-designed rather than foisted on communities after plans are already drawn up without participation from local communities.
We look forward to hearing from you Yours sincerely
Leslie London OCA Chair
RESPONSE RECEIVED on 3rd December 2020
Following your letter dated 11th of October 2020, we would like to give the following feedback.
Request for a consultative process for the future of the Malta Park and Hartleyvale precincts
- The request to initiate a public consultation is noted.
- Historic use of these spaces have always been of recreational and sporting nature and continues to be used in that manner. Spaces are zoned as Open Space and Community Zone 1 and are currently used for community sporting purposes. The Department embarked on an internal review process specifically looking at optimizing use of these spaces within the sport and recreational guidelines. Currently there is no precinct plan and activities continue on these spaces as per the zoning. Despite Cape Town City lease coming to an end, a renewal lease process will require a public participation process and comment from sub council before the lease is renewed.
- Litigation proceedings underway, the City has been instructed by the Court to meaningfully engage with the current occupants of the land, therefore are not in a position to discuss the future use of the site until the matter is resolved.
- The Malta Park /Hartleyvale spaces is separate from TRUP rezoning process and it will continue to be used for community/sporting activities.
- Based on historic use, the objective remains the same for the land to be used for community/sporting purposes. The community consultation process in term of any development of spaces are accommodated in City processes e.g. public participation process for lease/land use applications.
- Litigation proceedings are still underway, the Department’s position remain to continue to promote and use that space for recreational and sporting purposes, e.g. possible extension of swimming pool or additional sports field.
- Litigation proceedings underway, the City has been instructed to meaningfully engage with the current occupants of the land, therefore are not in a position to discuss the future use of the site until the matter is resolved.
- The LSDF briefly indicates that more detailed Precinct Plans and Site Development Plans will follow at later stages in the planning process. While the purpose of this document is to provide high level guide for future investment and development, latter sections of the report proceeds to make more detailed proposals (or guidelines as named in the document) with regard to provision of public facilities and open spaces. The study area includes tracts of land that, while zoned Open Space 2, is of conservation/biodiversity value and may only provide limited physical (public) access. Public open space (i.e. active/passive informal recreational space as well as formal sporting facilities) will need to be articulated and future increase in population densities will need to be considered in the provision/redevelopment of such spaces. The framework specifically mentions intensification of the use of sports facilities, in particular the site used by the SAN Circus, however the City is not in a position to do this given the current litigation. The Department is determined to protect the integrity of the Hartleyvale/Malta regional open space system with associated recreational and sports related uses. Public spaces should make up a continuous network of space and promote active and passive recreation.
- There are no short term plans to develop the spaces and it will continue to be used for community sporting purposes via sporting clubs obtaining leases or the department’s booking process. Should further development be anticipated, the Department will embark on the community consultation process with all affected stakeholders.
- The comment is duly noted; the department maintains its position to use and manage the land as a sports precinct.
- As previously indicated (item 9), there are no detailed plans and the department maintains its position to use the land for sporting purposes.
- The current activities at each field contribute to the immediate plan that is not subject to change in the near future, in fact reinforced with sporting lease agreements for sporting clubs.
- The comment is duly noted; the City will be pleased to engage and facilitate engagement with the Observatory Civic Association and the Public when the time arises.The OCA would be happy to assist in facilitating any consultative process in this regard. We have copied the Ward Committee and other relevant stakeholders since we believe this matter affects a number of other communities and organisations who would have interest in such a planning process.
Please contact me if you have further questions or comments.