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Thursday Sep 27, 2012

Princess Vlei forum questions rezoning validity

Cape Town residents have questioned the legality of environment and planning MEC Anton Bredell's decision to extend the validity of a rezoning decision to make way for a shopping mall and taxi rank at Princess Vlei.

Members of Princess Vlei Forum, opposed to the private shopping mall to be built on public land around the vlei, say the company that was given the rights to develop the controversial mall, Insight Developers (Cape), no longer exists. The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission report shows that it was deregistered in 2009 after failing to submit annual returns.

Forum member Kelvin Cochrane said yesterday: "The rezoning rights died with that company. If a company doesn't exist, how can the rezoning rights exist? These rights can't be transferred from one company to another, or to a new company. You have to start from scratch with a new application, a new process.

"Yet Bredell went on radio saying he had done checks and cross-checks and applied his mind. If this is the result, then he should resign."

Documents alleging irregularities in the process surrounding the Princess Vlei shopping mall development have been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority and to the public protector.

The forum has a copy of a letter sent to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning asking for an extension of the validity of the rezoning period to allow the Princess Vlei development. Rezoning rights become invalid if not acted upon within a certain time period. The city council had not processed the application to extend the validity of the rezoning in time.

The letter asked the province to extend the rezoning for five years. It was written by "Neville Thornton, Insight Property Developers".

The forum had done a search and found no company registered as Insight Property Developers.

"Who are Insight Property Developers? Thornton wrote with no letterhead, with no company registration number and with no directors' names at the bottom of the letter," Cochrane said.

The only company with a similar name was Insight Property Developers (Palmyra), of which Neville Thornton is a director.

However, this company and the provincial government have both told the Cape Times the Palmyra company is a totally separate company, registered to do a different development, and is not involved with the Princess Vlei mall.

The Cape Times asked Bredell's department to state the name of the company, or individual, to whom Bredell had granted an extension of rezoning rights, whether it was legal for Bredell to transfer the rezoning rights from one company to another, and how a company that had ceased to exist in 2009 could lodge an appeal to to extend its rights.

In reply, Aziel Gangerdine, spokesperson for the department, said: "The appeal was lodged against the city's not having communicated its decision regarding the application for an extension of the validity of the rezoning within the time (seven-month period) allowed by the applicable regulations." He did not answer the other questions.

Neville Thornton refused to comment.

Cape Times

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