The City of Cape Town‘s Municipal Planning Tribunal has approved the rezoning of the River Club property in Observatory to allow construction of a US $263.7m mega-project including headquarters for Amazon at Two Rivers Urban Park.
The decision to rezone the area from Open Space to Business designations, came in the face of 180 objections from civil society bodies, activist organisations, First Nation groupings, and individuals. The development will result in infilling a floodplain, permanently erasing the original course of the Liesbeek River, and constructing buildings up to 11-storeys high on an area recognised as significant to First Nations.
Issues behind the mega-project
An Environmental Authorisation which is a requirement for rezoning, was granted by the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning on 20 August. But there were 40 objections, and an appeal process is underway. The deadline for appeals to be lodged was 10 September, and among the applicants are the City’s own Environmental Management Department, and Heritage Western Cape, both of whom say the province’s decision violates provisions of the National Heritage Resources Act and the National Environmental Management Act.
But just eight days after the deadline and without sight of the Environmental Authorisation appeals, the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal decided to rezone the site at the confluence of the Black and Liesbeek Rivers. The tribunal chairperson, David Daniels, favourably compared the proposed development to Century City.
Development on the 14.8ha River Club site, which is owned by Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust and currently features a nine-hole golf course, pub, conference venue and golf shop, has faced sustained civic opposition since the trust submitted a notice of intent to develop in July 2016. The land is in the Two Rivers Urban Park.