The South African National Parks and the Democratic Alliance’s Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, Robin Carlisle, have given their approval to the building plans which will erect two-storey luxury office blocks for the BEE company, Entilini Concession, on one of Cape Town’s most beautiful nature reserves, Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Entilini Concession Pty Ltd is a public-private initiative that was set up by the Western Cape government to implement the tolling of visitors to Chapmans Peak and is responsible for the Drive’s maintenance. The long loved Chapmans Peak Drive with its world renowned sightseeing views in Hout Bay will, according to the approved building plans, be overshadowed by two-storey office blocks which will include, as reported by Melanie Gosling of the Cape Times: “A ground floor that contains a reception area and offices for the plaza manager, secretaries, a foreman, internal auditor and human resources manager. It has a staff room with a television and kitchen, a large “control room”, cash room, technician’s workshop, archive, two cloakrooms with lavatories and showers, and two other lavatories. There is a “cash collection garage”, a large storeroom and a workshop. The office has its own sewerage plant.
The upper storey has a lobby/display area, kitchen, two cloakrooms and a storeroom, and offices for the general manager, a personal assistant and concessions manager.
Residents say the upper storey is designed for parties and functions. The concessions manager’s office has sliding doors that open into a large meeting room. This opens on to a covered terrace with a skylight. There is a “service” area. Sliding doors open on to a second terrace, covered by a pergola, that overlooks a landscaped roof terrace. There is another terrace on the roof.”
In response to the bizarre scenario where multi-million Rand office blocks are to be built on the sanctity of a nature reserve, Len Swimmer of the Hout Bay Residents Association said “Nobody is allowed to build in a national park. What is the benefit to the public?”
How the public will benefit is questionable, however the cost of the project is set at R54 million of which tax-payers will be expected to pay R25 million of the bill. Over and above the extra tax burden to the Western Cape, the amount of toll booths currently charging visitors to drive through this iconic Capetonian landmark will double. Further to these expenses, the DA’s Robin Carlisle has said that at his decision the ‘picnic passes’, in which visitors could previously enjoy free entry into the picnic area, will be abolished and full toll-fees will apply. However, Carlisle gave reassurance that the Province would recover all present and future costs over time.
In response to the public outcry, David Mabunda, the CEO of SANParks said, “It is a considered view of the SANParks board that this toll-gate development, as per the approved record of decision, does not threaten the ecological integrity of Table Mountain National Park,”
Mabunda denies that the ecological integrity of the reserve will be threatened by the building works, but residents are also angry over what would be the aesthetic destruction of the mountain side. If the DA-led Western Cape government, BEE company Entilini Concession and SANParks are not held to account on these developments, Hout Bay locals as well as visitors to this world famous setting will be greeted by two-storey office blocks. However the tax-payers Rands will be sure to benefit the few Entilini and Government connected who will be the only ones to have the pleasure of enjoying the Entilini terraces.