Kalk Bay restaurant cut deal with rail agency to lease land for beach deck
Cape Town's Kalk Bay councillor is investigating whether the land used for the Brass Bell restaurant's new deck on the beach is owned only by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), after residents complained that no public participation process took place.
Beachgoers flocked to the two Kalk Bay tidal pools behind the Brass Bell restaurant yesterday.
Residents are furious after Brass Bell owner Tony White built a deck next to the children's tidal pool and a door along the walkway between Kalk Bay Harbour and the train station.
Residents feared the public's access along the walkway and to the bigger tidal pools behind the Brass Bell would be restricted.
Prasa, which says it owns the land, has acknowledged that no communication took place with residents.
Local councillor David D'Alton said he was investigating whether a public participation process had taken place and was also waiting for city officials to verify whether all the land belonged to Prasa.
"My understanding is that the land on the beach is public property, but so far I am getting reports that the land belongs to Prasa and that they did not have to get permission from the city. But I have not yet verified this," D'Alton said.
Henry Masimla, manager of Prasa's corporate real estate division, said: "For years that land near the kiddies' pool has been unused and it became an eyesore because there is no control over that area, especially this time of the year.
"The Brass Bell's lease was renegotiated earlier this year and we agreed to lease the additional piece of land as well because it was derelict."
He said Prasa was happy with the improvements White had made as he had agreed to keep the neglected area tidy.
"In our discussions with Mr White when he submitted the plans, we agreed that the public would have unrestricted access and that he would only lock the door on the walkway at night to protect his assets," Masimla said.
He said Prasa had not undertaken a public participation process as the land was privately owned.
"The changes were minor and would improve that piece of land so we agreed to it on that basis. In terms of communication with ratepayers, that didn't happen, but purely because we regarded it as minor work," he said.
"But we have agreed to start engaging with ratepayers regarding all Prasa issues in the area."
Members of the Kalk Bay/St James Ratepayers and Residents' Association have described the move by White and Prasa as a "takeover" and "privatisation" of the beach and tidal pool area.
Residents also took offence to the "private property" signs around the tidal pools which say that trespassers will face criminal prosecution.
Both White and Prasa have given an assurance that the public's access to pools and walkway will not be restricted.
"Our stations are used by the public, "Masimla added.
"We want to serve the community and provide access to them but we also need to keep our facilities upgraded."
Posted at 09:58AM Dec 27, 2012 by Editor in Cape Town |