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Tuesday Sep 30, 2014

Legality of CTICC construction scrutinised

Although construction on the R832 million expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) is well under way, defective advertising of the proposed expropriation of public servitudes has put the legality of its building processes under scrutiny.

Objectors are calling for a halt to construction work on the CTICC until all legal obstacles are removed and a public participation process is finalised.

It is understood that objectors are concerned that building activity has continued, despite the existing planning restrictions, and there has been a call for all building work to stop to remove legal obstacles and finalise public participation processes.

The ACDP has asked why the city's plans to take away the public access use of the land in Roggebaai to allow for the expansion of the CTICC were so poorly advertised.

Questions have also been raised about why documents about site development plans and other information that would allow the public to submit 'meaningful' comments were withheld by the city.

In questions to mayor Patricia de Lille, submitted for last week's city council meeting, the ACDP said the advertisement for the expropriation of existing servitude rights did not appear in July's Provincial Gazettes, as was decided at the June council meeting. This despite construction already taking place. In terms of this resolution, the city's intention to take over public servitudes and access rights had to be advertised in the Gazette and local newspapers to allow for a 30-day comment period.

Grant Haskin, of the ACDP, said the advert appeared in only one local newspaper, and that it referred only to the servitude between erf 246 and 247, with no mention of the servitude between erf 245 and 246.

In a previous council meeting, Haskin said there was a road - Corso Street - that ran between the two sites.

In her response, De Lille said the poor advertising was 'an administrative error' by the line department concerned. However, the notice was advertised again on August 22 in print media and the Provincial Gazette.

This second advertisement allowed for 31 days to comment.

Although the ACDP and other objectors have complained that information has been withheld, De Lille said the notice that was correctly placed in August provided sufficient information and was compliant.

'Certain information requested by the objectors related to plans submitted by the CTICC and abutting Netcare Hospital development. The objectors were informed by the city's planning department, in requesting to view said plans, that they require the relevant owners/applicants' permission.'

De Lille noted that there were three objections during the initial, flawed advertising process. Temporary closures had been issued so that work can continue while the expropriation process was under way, the city said. But objectors have pointed out that the servitudes were closed off before the public could comment on the city's plans.

The CTICC's expansion has been dogged by controversy and allegations of maladministration, with separate investigations by the public protector and the city's forensic unit. It received its second consecutive unqualified clean audit for the 2013/14 financial year, with the centre's chief executive officer, Julie-May Ellingson, saying it was testament to the CTICC's commitment and adherence to the 'highest standards of good corporate governance and financial management'.

Cape Argus


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