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Monday Dec 24, 2012

Kalk Bay residents angry over 'privatisation' of Brass Bell beach

Kalk Bay residents are up in arms over the "takeover" and "privatisation" of the local beach and tidal pool area after the owner of the Brass Bell restaurant built a gate between the harbour and tidal pools and built a new pizza restaurant with a deck covering a third of the beach.

The tidal pool with the new wall and gate in the foreground.

The Kalk Bay/St James Residents' and Ratepayers' Association says it was not consulted about the move.

Residents are also furious over "private property" signs and a door that has been installed on the walkway, which they say will restrict access of beachgoers and residents who use the walkway from Kalk Bay harbour to the Kalk Bay station subway.

Association chairman Tony Trimmel said the construction of the deck area near a "kiddies" tidal pool had shocked residents.

The deck area has a canopy and several wooden tables and chair sets which extend onto the sandpit area around the tidal pool.

People now have to walk through the deck area to access two tidal pools which surround the Brass Bell.

Construction started a month ago and was completed last week. "We want to know who gave them (Brass Bell owners) the authority to erect this deck right on the beach. Then the 'private property' signs went up, and we took offence at that because it reminds us of the old days when people of colour were restricted from using these beaches," Trimmel said.

He added it was also unclear whether the Brass Bell had obtained approval from the city.

"The number one issue is that the amenities in Kalk Bay belong to the city and its people. The Brass Bell's interaction with the community is nonexistent," Trimmel said.

Brass Bell owner Tony White said he was a tenant and leased the land for the restaurant and the deck extension from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa). White said he had applied to Prasa and had been granted approval to build a kitchen and the deck.

"Some of the ratepayers seem to think I am denying access to the pools, but that is not so. The beach and tidal pool area will be open at all times, but the walkway will be closed at night to provide security for my assets," White said.

He said he would close the door around 1am when the restaurant usually closed.

White added that the "overwhelming majority" of the public was in favour of what he was doing with the sandpit area as it was previously under-used and neglected.

"It is private property and Prasa is entitled to do what they want on that property, and I obtained approval from them. The sandpit area was hardly ever used and it was somewhat of an eyesore. "Prasa decided to lease the land out to me, and I will keep the area clean," he said.

Asked whether the public had been consulted, White said: "It... is private land. If Prasa felt it should be opened for public consultation, that is up to them. But I am certainly not going to restrict people's right to use the pool."

Residents said they had contacted Subcouncil 19 chairwoman Felicity Purchase, but hadn't had any information on whether White and Prasa had followed the correct channels.

Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle said although the land did not fall under the province's authority, he would contact Prasa management to inspect the site.

"Beaches belong to all the people in South Africa. Anything happening on the beaches has to be approved by the city through a proper planning transaction, and I'm not sure that has happened..." he said.

The Cape Times could not reach Purchase for comment.

Cape Times

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