Proposed development of shopping centre at the Ladies Mile Site: The next step
The application for the development by Shoprite Checkers, as the business partner of the Hadji Abdulla and Hadji Ismael Solomon Family Trusts, of part of the land (erven 13707 and 13708) bordered by Ladies Mile Road, Spaanschemat River Road, Kendal Road and the M3 has reached its next step in the application process. Despite 54 objections, mostly regarding the scale and inappropriateness of the proposed development, the Land Use Management Department of the City expressed the opinion that the proposal will have a relatively low visual and traffic impact. In their report for the Municipal Planning Tribunal they essentially recommend approval of the proposed development, specifically:
- To approve the consolidation of the two properties belonging to the two trusts,
- to approve the rezoning to General Business Zone and
- to approve parking bays closer than normally allowed from the roads.
(It must be noted that this proposal is only for approximately 23% of the entire parcel of land bordered by the indicated roads. The development that is likely to take place on the land on both sides of the indicated Solomon Trust property is not known. The families are in the process of discussing among themselves how they intend to proceed.)
The Constantia Ratepayers and Residents Association (CRRA), in their comment on the proposed development by Shoprite Checkers, stated its support for the long overdue restitution of the site to its rightful owners and its support for the owners’ endeavours to obtain enhanced rights and the owners’ right to development of the land in an “appropriate” manner. However we objected to the current proposal as it does not comply with the City’s own planning policies and does not satisfy the desirability criteria listed in the Municipal Planning By-Law such as:
- the socio-economic impact
- compatibility with surrounding uses
- Impact on safety, health and wellbeing of the community
- Heritage impact
- Traffic and transport considerations
We concluded by saying ‘The matter at hand is not whether or not Constantia needs another retail development or who the anchor tenant is. It is whether the development is contextually appropriate and whether it complies with the City’s planning policies for the area. The current proposal does neither and ‘puts the cart before the horse’ by focusing on the immediate financial yields of an over-scaled retail centre, developed in isolation, while information on the development of the greater site is still lacking. This large, vacant site presents a unique opportunity for the establishment of a quality new neighbourhood, accommodating a range of housing types and associated uses, including convenience retail, restaurants and open spaces.’
This is an important piece of land due to the history attached to it and due to the positioning of the land in Constantia Valley. The Solomon families submitted a land claim in 1996. After a frustratingly difficult and long period, they took transfer of the land only on 29 May 2012.
In 2010 the Land Claims Court concluded a Deed of Settlement between the parties concerned. The Deed of Settlement includes a “Proposal for Future Land Use” by the Solomon families, which was annexed to the Deed and signed off by all parties, including the City. This proposal was based on Commercial development west of the freeway (M3) through the development of a Southern Suburbs “node” comprising retail and commercial development, with the design complementing the profile of the surrounding residential area and its environmental appearance.
The floor area of this Shoprite Checkers Development (SCD) is about half of that of the buildings at the Constantia Village Shopping Centre (CVSC). The ground level will be raised about 1.5m above the level of Ladies Mile Road and the building itself will be much higher (total height of 12 m) than that of the Constantia Village Shopping Centre (CVSC) making it much more visible. The development is directly on the boundary of the M3 highway. The CVSC main building is 30m from the road boundary, whereas the SCD stands 5m from the road boundary.
In terms of the Settlement Deed mentioned above, “Nothing shall preclude the Trusts from development of the land to its full potential subject to compliance with the relevant legislation”. The City acknowledges in their recommendation to the tribunal that the proposal is diametrically opposed to the Southern District Plan which specifically states that ‘’no further regional shopping centres should be permitted” in the Constantia area. This non-compliance was pointed out to the city in several submissions but the city argues that it is justified to deviate from the plan.
The Municipal Planning Tribunal meeting, where the future of this important tract of land in Constantia will be decided, is to be held on 13th December. Normally objectors and members of the tribunal are given more than three weeks to prepare for the meeting. In this case objectors who requested an oral hearing at the meeting were advised on 30 November and could interact with the tribunal only on 5 December as the contact person given by the city was on vacation. Only by driving to town could a copy of the report to the tribunal be obtained by the CRRA manager on Friday afternoon, leaving 7 working days for preparing comment.
In accordance with the Municipal Planning By-law, this application has to be heard by the Tribunal before the middle of March 2017. By rushing and placing an item on the December agenda during the school holidays, when many residents will be away, the proposal is likely to have less resistance from the public. The CRRA intends to apply for a postponement of the hearing to February, enabling proper preparation for the Tribunal. It will also allow for comprehensive consultation with our members – an opinion survey indicated that more than 80% of respondents were opposed to the development in its proposed form.
The application and City Report to the Municipal Planning Tribunal is available from the CRRA website.
Below is the locality plan of the proposed development:
Please see link below for the original application documents from the Developers as well as the objection submitted by the CRRA as well as the documents released by the City.
THE FUTURE OF CONSTANTIA IS IN YOUR HANDS