Friends of Stellenbosch Mountain
Many of the links information and documents provided here are available from other websites; they are mirrored here only as a service. Comments
added by us may be helpful but please do read the originals.
Jump to current appeal on the proposed development
Blaauwklippen is a historical wine farm located between Paradyskloof and Jamestown. This farm along with other properties
were acquired by Blaauwklippen Agricultural Estates (BAE) in July 2015. BAE is in turn owned or controlled
by ATM Group. The ATM Group describes itself as an innovative property development and management company
with its head office situated in Stellenbosch. Established in the late eighties, the group has evolved and grown into a well skilled specialized
property company with expert knowledge of the property industry with projects in the Northern Cape but centered around Stellenbosch. The
website informs us that Previous developments by the group include commercial office parks, retail shopping centres, medium and high income
residential estates, healthcare facilities and hospitality facilities.
To our knowledge, the following properties form part of BAE, at least until recently:
The list is not necessarily complete. Remarkably, of these five land units, three were already in 2019 proposed to be included into the urban
edge, as shown in this extract from the MSDF. Here is a detailed view
of a second extract from 2019 MSDF shows a map of all early-2019 development proposals. All four
portions are labelled in red. The grey hatch pattern means "proposed development". The present fourth development proposal for the four tuin erwe
is also roughly marked. Inclusion into the urban edge is, of course, a necessary (but in itself insufficient) precondition for a development
Portion 510/837 of about 36.436 hectares: the main vineyard, restaurant with online presence here;
Portion 527/3 of about 14.791 hectares, located south-east of Jamestown but north of Stellenrust Road,
Portion 1457/0 of 33.3864 hectares, the currently unused land immediately south of Paradyskloof along the R44;
Portion 369/17 of 26.67 hectares, south of the L'Hermitage suburb
Portions 52, 53, 54 and 71 of Farm 510 (four of the so-called tuin erwe) in Jamestown
Interestingly, the main Blaauwklippen farm 510/837 as well as all the Jamestown water erven (including those now under appeal as set out below) are included in the many for
which suspicious exemptions were granted from the legislation protecting agricultural land: see the green portions at the bottom
of this map. Blaauwklippen 510/837 is clearly marked, while the water erven are "hidden" under the many green
boundary markings just north of Jamestown itself. Here is the Government Gazette of March 2018. The
questions asked in 2018 about this remain unanswered.
- Some documents on the 2019-2021 Jamestown water erven development proposal
- Pre-submission consultation on 12 September 2019, including attendance list
- Letter from Heritage Western Cape of 28 May 2018, saying that no further action is
required regarding heritage issues of the proposal. That letter, however, preceded the detailed
Heritage Inventory Phase 4 as mirrored by the
Stellenbosch Heritage Foundation. Phase 4 includes pages in which the Jamestown
tuinerwe are singled out for high heritage status.
- The Phase 4 Heritage Inventory was highly praised by the Stellenbosch mayor during her
Mayor's address of 23 October 2019. In terms of the
Stellenbosch Land Use Planning By-Law, the Mayor is also the "appeal authority"
i.e. she is the final arbiter in the appeal which was heard on 27 May 2021.
- Heritage Western Cape subsequently approved the Phase 4 HI in March 2019. This
formed the basis for the comments by town planning officials as set out below.
- First, however, the application went through the usual steps, starting with
the Notice of proposal of June 2019 which resulted in some letters of objection,
including one by FSM and a more complete one by
Jamestown Erfenis with some pertinent annexures including
the background from 1989, objections by the
Jamestown Methodist Church,
the 1966 objection by residents against the proclamation
of Jamestown as a white area in terms of the apartheid Group Areas Act, which seems to have been
effective to stop the reproclamation. See also the
1989 Webersvallei Structure Plan and
comments by Hermann Stipp.
- At that time, Eikestadnuus already carried an article asking whether
this proposal would cost Jamestown its town character.
- Both the 2019 Draft MSDF of June 2019 and the
2019 Final MSDF as of November 2019 had incorporated important elements of the Heritage Inventory
into the plans. The Jamestown heritage status and its incorporation into the MSDF constituted one of the arguments by the
municipal Department of Planning
planning report of November 2019 which relied on
an assessment of August 2019 long provided to the developer
and included the relevant Heritage Inventory parts on Jamestown.
- The development proposal itself was motivated multiple times by consultant TV3 as in, for example,
this motivational report and
this earlier response to the August 2019 assessment. These documents are, as usual, quite
selective in the information used and provided.
- The Stellenbosch Municipal Planning Tribunal
(MPT) considered the proposal on 27 November 2020. The
full MPT agenda item comprises 321 pages and 18MB. At that meeting, the MPT decided
to refuse the application, and a corresponding
decision letter was sent to BAE on 2 December 2020.
Not surprisingly, this led to an irate appeal by Blaauwklippen Agricultural Estates
in December 2020. The multiple allegations and threats were given a
detailed rebuttal by FSM by FSM in January 2021; there were also again
important comments by Jamestown Erfenis highlighting the ongoing process of
gentrification and how the original residents are being driven out by rising taxes.
- One of the strongest arguments by BAE, namely that the erven in question fall inside the existing urban edge, is correct but tends to
see the urban edge as a right rather than a necessary but not sufficient condition for development. See the highlighted text on the
Urban Edge on Page 144 of the 2019 MSDF.
- As stated, the Mayor acts as the appeal authority. In that capacity, she subsequently held an oral hearing on
27 May 2021. BAE, FSM and Stellenbosch Erfenis were invited to make oral submissions and pre-oral written submissions such as
the FSM pre-hearing submission focusing on some details, while
Jamestown Erfenis also made a submission. Naturally
the BAE presentation repeated earlier motivations and now also relied on a purported
exchange taken from the sound recording of the MPT meeting of 27 November.
- The appeal decision was signed on 13 July 2021 and communicated to FSM and Jamestown
erfenis on 14 July. The decision upheld the BAE appeal and revoked the decision by the Municipal Planning
Tribunal and simultaneously overruled the determination of the municipal Department of Planning. The
"reasons" given follow closely those submitted by BAE's legal team; they can be found on "Page 5 of 6" (page 6 of the PDF document) of
said appeal decision. The last reason provided is an entirely empty promise, which no doubt
will be tested and broken in the near future:
Reason 8: "The decision will not create a precedent as every application has to be judged on its own merits"
- If the present application had really been "judged on its own merits", the mayor is implying that neither the municipal Department of
Planning nor the Municipal Planning Tribunal "judged the application on its merits". In other words, the Mayor knows better than the
professionals. No doubt the next series of Jamestown and other development applications "merits" will be "judged" in a similar
- This appeal decision has created a precedent. With the development approved on dubious "merits", Jamestown
stands to lose its last chance of maintaining its character and return the tuin erwe to their agricultural purposes. The continuing
process of creating gated estates for the rich will accelerate, while the poorer residents will eventually have to move out.
- Given that the appellant (BAE) relied heavily on a selective extract quote from the sound recording of the MPT
meeting of 27 November 2020, FSM after the appeal hearing also submitted a PAIA request for access to that recording. This recording
was provided on or about 26 May 2021.
- A 17 October 2021 story in the Sunday Times (see
original link) states that
The DA mayor of Stellenbosch approved [the BAE appeal] just weeks after the farm
hosted and bankrolled two events for the political party.
Four days later, on 21 October 2021, the local Stellenbosch newspaper
Eikestadnuus quoted extensively from the Jamestown Erfenis objections to the development and its approval. While the article
itself makes no reference to the alleged hosting of the Democratic Alliance by Blaauwklippen estate, the municipal spokesperson Stuart
Grobbelaar is quoted in the Eikestadnuus article as stating that
In die belang van deursigtigheid is die beslissingsbriewe vir die publiek oop en op die munisipale webwerf beskikbaar. Dit hou
geensins verband met partypolitieke-aktiwiteite nie. Enige voorstelle van partydige inmenging is 'n lasterlike, heeltemal ongegronde
aanval op die integriteit van die burgemeester.
which translates as
In the interest of transparency, the decision letters are open to the public and available on the municipal website. It
[the appeal decision?] is in no way connected with party-political activities. Any suggestions of party interference is a libellous,
completely unfounded attack on the integrity of the mayor.