LETTER: River Club response misses the mark
Cultural and environmental concerns must trump private profits
James Tannenberger’s letter “In defence of the River Club development” (April 28-May 4) repeats some errors of fact regarding the development in Observatory, Cape Town.
The Liesbeek River is the least polluted river in urban Cape Town, as confirmed in a 2020 report to the city. Yet the developers repeat the claim that it is so polluted they are doing us a favour by burying the last remnant of the original river course.
Tannenberg also neglects to mention that a large swathe of First Nation people reject the idea that a heritage cultural and media centre can compensate for the destruction of living heritage associated with the open space of the riverine valley. The Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust may have had extensive engagement with First Nations groups that support the development, but judge Patricia Goliath found that the consultation process was flawed because it excluded First Nations groups who do not.
The development will also adversely affect our climate resilience because it is infilling a river and a floodplain.
There is no plausible planning reason to place this development on a sacred floodplain intended to be part of an urban park and coast-to-coast greenway, unless one considers the profits to be made a good reason. But that is to conflate a private benefit with a public good. However, as Goliath confirmed, economic benefits “can never override the fundamental rights of First Nations peoples”. We are confident the courts will find that the decisions to approve the development were invalid and unlawful.
Observatory Civic Association (OCA) chair
* The OCA, together with the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and supported by 29 other Khoi and San groups, has taken the approvals to the high court on review
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