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Thursday Jul 26, 2012

Heritage rejects revised Baboon Point property proposal

A revised development application has been submitted for parts of Baboon Point at Elands Bay - the Western Cape's first proclaimed heritage site and rated by archaeologists as being of global heritage significance.

An artist's impression of part of the proposed development.

Developer Midnight Storm, whose five-year long attempt to build more than 50 houses on two of the erven that it owns at Baboon Point was finally rejected in May 2010 by a tribunal appointed by the Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC, has now submitted a much smaller plan that involves five houses and an as-yet unspecified industrial facility, at three different sites on the property.

The location of the proposed five new houses (numbers 1 to 5) and an industrial facility (6) at the Baboon Point provincial heritage site on the southern boundary of Elands Bay. A heritage assessment has found sites 2, 3, 4 and 5 unsuitable for develoment.

But even this plan has proved controversial, with a statutory heritage impact assessment rating only one of those houses and the industrial site potentially appropriate for development.

The developer's latest application has been submitted to the province's statutory heritage authority, Heritage Western Cape, which has appointed a special subcommittee with delegated powers to make a decision on the proposed development. But the legality of this delegated authority has been questioned by at least one of the objectors.

The committee met this week to consider the new application, although chairman Steve Townsend made it clear that it would not immediately make a decision, despite pressure from the developer's environmental consultant, Aubrey Withers.

But the meeting soon hit a snag when it became apparent that the 200-plus page Basic Assessment Report for the proposed development had not been sent to registered "interested and affected parties", as required.

Attorney Jo MacRobert, representing the Elands Bay Environmental and Development Action Group, said they had not received a copy of the report.

"I didn't even know it existed. I haven't seen it until today," she said.

Withers confirmed to the committee that the report "per se has not gone out", but said it was available on the company's website. However, the Cape Argus could not locate it.

Townsend suggested that the committee would not approve the four proposed houses that had been red-flagged in the heritage assessment, and asked the developer's team to submit a significantly more detailed map of Baboon Point which included more information about the proposed sites for the remaining one house and, particularly, for the industrial facility.

Cape Argus

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