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Wednesday Jul 25, 2012

Lagoon Bay property developer intends late appeal

Planning and environment MEC Anton Bredell says the would-be developer of the controversial Lagoon Bay lifestyle estate on the southern Cape coast is making a "misguided" attempt to pressure him into favouring a revised development plan.

Bredell says this is being done through the developer's Western Cape High Court application for condonation of submitting a late notice of intention to appeal against an earlier court judgment, which went against it.

In April last year, Bredell refused rezoning and subdivision permission. He described the estate in court papers as development "on an almost unprecedented scale, creating a new (albeit gated) node between the towns of Mossel Bay and George".

This was after his predecessor, Pierre Uys of the ANC, gave environmental approval shortly before leaving office in 2009.

In August, Judge Bennie Griesel refused an application by the developer to review and rescind Bredell's refusals. Then, in a May application for condonation of late lodgement of notice to appeal, the developer revealed significantly changed plans, with one of the golf courses being dropped in favour of a farming estate that included a retirement village. It also revealed that backer Rand Merchant Bank had taken control.

In his affidavit opposing the application, Bredell said the developer's revised plan would require a new application and approvals. The "irresistible conclusion" was that the developer and its financial backers had no intention of proceeding with the original development plan... that formed the basis of their appeal, he said.

"As an afterthought, they have elected to rather try and use the appeal process as a means of putting pressure on me to either give them an indication as to what I think of their new proposal before it is formally submitted, or indeed consider its applications for amendments to inter alia the current environmental and planning application favourably... the appeal is now moot and the Applicant has failed to take this Court into its confidence."

Bredell is the first respondent, the second is the George municipality, and the third is NGO Cape Windlass Environmental Action Group. The action group is bringing a separate High Court review application, challenging Uys's environmental approval.

Cape Argus

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