Tag Archives: rezoning

Oranjezicht City Farm Market moves to Premier’s Residence ‘Villa Zille’!

OCF Mountain Whale CottageYesterday the first Oranjezicht City Farm market of 2015 was held on the grounds of the official residence Leeuwenhof of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, dubbed as ‘Villa Zille’.  It was the first time that I attended the market since its move to the premier’s property six weeks ago, and I was impressed with the location, the parking offered, and the use of the property by those who attended.  The highlightOCF Helen Zille Whale  Cottage was seeing Premier Zille mingling with the crowd, herself shopping at the market!

The move to Leeuwenhof resulted from a suggestion via Twitter, when it was announced by the Oranjezicht City Farm that they would have to close down the market adjacent to the Farm, given the bureaucratic requirements of the City of Cape Town and Heritage Western Cape, Continue reading →

Cape Town to grow by close to 1 million population in Wescape development!

WescapeThe Western Cape government yesterday approved the expansion of the boundary of Cape Town, to allow the City of Cape Town to create the Wescape ‘mini city’ suburb between the N7 and the West Coast Road,  and between Atlantis and Melkbosstrand, with 200000 houses, 800000 residents, and costing R140 billion to develop.

The land used for the development is currently farmland, and it will take 20 years for the Wescape development to be completed.  The approval granted will only allow the expansion of the City’s ‘urban edge’, and does not automatically give the developers the right to go ahead, as further approvals will have to be applied for, such as environmental authorisation, rezoning, and subdivision of the land, according to the Cape Times.

The approval of the expansion of the city’s urban edge has met with mixed reaction, having Continue reading →

Cape Town Stadium new commercial hub for Cape Town?

An elaborate plan to meet the R40 million or so annual shortfall in funding the Cape Town Stadium could see a ‘commercialisation’ of the Green Point sport and entertainment facility, to secure its survival, and to reduce the financial pressure on the City of Cape Town and its ratepayers.  The plan announcement has been overshadowed by SAA’s decision to cut the direct Cape Town-London route from 15 August, news which was announced on the same day, and is currently of far greater concern to the local tourism industry.

The City has been advised by consultants to turn the R4 billion Cape Town Stadium and neighbouring Green Point Park into a commercialised zone, which would allow nightclubs, shops, coffee shops, sports bars, restaurants, letting of office space, and even a sport hospital to be set up in the area, reports the Cape Argus.  In addition, stadium tours, a museum, a ‘hall of fame’, and a Sports Science Institute are planned. This would help Cape Town to be positioned as a ‘leading events, investment and tourist destination’, says the newspaper report.  The Stadium operating costs amount to R50 million per annum, with only R11 million earned in the past nine months. Ideally, the City of Cape Town would seek an anchor tenant. Talks with the Western Cape Rugby Union are said to be  ‘at a very early stage’, despite having been initiated a year ago already.  The City had to take back the management of the stadium when negotiations for its agreement with Sail Stadefrance fell through.

Other South African World Cup soccer stadia are offering guided tours of their facilities, and some have restaurants and shops too.  Looking to inspiration overseas, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium complex consists of hotels, flats, a nightclub, bars, restaurants, a megastore, and Chelsea World of Sport.

The City of Cape Town plans to apply to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, to change the ‘Record of Decision’ for the stadium and the Green Point Park alongside it, with the view to change its zoning, which defines its uses.  Currently the zoning prohibits the commercialisation of the stadium and of the park, and would prevent the recommendations of its consultants, i.e setting up retail outlets, renting out parking space, and letting office space.  City of Cape Town Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, has delegated the task of negotiating with the province to his relatively new Executive Director and head of his department, Anton Groenewald.

The Green Point Residents and Ratepayers’ Association has supported the plan in part, not wishing to see ‘blanket’ business rights for the area.

While the financial benefits of generating more income from the attractive and well positioned Cape Town Stadium have merit, we cannot see the proposed commercialisation thereof having any benefit to Cape Town’s positioning as an events, investment, and tourist destination, as claimed by the City of Cape Town. The City of Cape Town does not have a good track record of running tourism nor of organising events, the 8 Nations Under 20 soccer tournament which finished last week being embarrassing proof of this!

POSTSCRIPT 9/6: Interesting is an article in the Cape Argus, which reports that the City of Cape Town’s MyCiTi bus service ‘could need a R500 million yearly subsidy’, making the cost of the Cape Town Stadium look like small change!  This is not its running cost – the City of Cape Town approved a R1,2 billion budget for the public transport system for the  2012/2013 financial year!

POSTSCRIPT 14/6: Exciting news is that Manchester United will play a friendly match against Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 21 July. Ticket prices will range from R150 – R350. The cost to the City of Cape Town is R7 million, Councillor Grant Pascoe is quoted as saying in Business Day, and 100 international journalists are expected to cover the event.

POSTSCRIPT 18/6: Even more exciting news is that Lady Gaga is coming to Cape Town on 3 December, for the ‘Born this Way Ball’ world concert tour, one of 110 in total.  The concert will be at the Cape Town Stadium.

POSTSCRIPT 29/6: The Cape Argus has reported that 23000 tickets were sold in the first 24 hours of ticket sales opening up for the Manchester United match. On City of Cape Town Councillor Grant Pascoe’s Twitter timeline we have read that ticket sales have now exceeded 39000. A total of 50000 tickets is for sale.  The newspaper also reported that a special Guinness Book of World Records attempt to have the largest number of persons collectively singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nelson Mandela in one place. Councillor Pascoe has justified spending R 6,1 million, with an income benefit of R2 million, because of the tourism benefit of the event. To date no such tourism benefit is evident!

POSTSCRIPT 29/6:  Earlier this week activist’ Terry Crawford-Brown has been vocal in The Times, in the Cape Argus, and the Atlantic Sun in calling for the demolition of the R 4 billion ‘white elephant’ Cape Town Stadium, and accused FIFA of ‘blackmailing‘ the city into building the stadium. The stadium’s construction was ‘unconstitutional‘, he claimed, given that the building of the stadium was not open, transparent, fair, nor cost-effective.  Councillor Pascoe clearly is annoyed by Mr Crawford-Brown’s communication, having refused to comment on it to The Times, and Tweeting disparagingly about it.

POSTSCRIPT 29/6:  The City’s design of the new Green Point Athletics Stadium, on the site of the original Green Point Stadium and adjacent to Cape Town Stadium, is disappointing, wrote Rashiq Fataar and Robert Bowen of Future Cape Town, in only allowing for 7000 spectator seats, reported the Cape Argus this week. The duo also is critical of its unexciting design, and not being worthy of Cape Town, lacking ‘a spirit and a character’.

POSTSCRIPT 29/6: The Times reported a week ago that the Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association are ‘set to go to war with council’ over any new developments relating to Cape Town Stadium.  In building the stadium, the Green Point community was promised in 2006 that the commercial development of the previous Green Point Common would not be allowed. The association feels that the planned commercialisation would not cover the cost shortfall.

POSTSCRIPT 1/7: Councillor Pascoe has told the Cape Argus that demolishing the stadium is not an option! Capetonians polled by the newspaper showed that locals are proud of the world-class stadium and its design, and call for it to become the home of Western Province rugby.

POSTCRIPT 1/7: From Tweets seen it would appear that the Manchester United – Ajax Cape Town match at Cape Town Stadium is sold out.

POSTSCRIPT 4/7: Horror of horrors for Green Point residents: notorious ANC City Councillor and COSATU provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich is creating outrage by his suggestion that the stadium be used for low cost housing! The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association has rejeceted the proposal, as the title deed does not allow it, reports The Times.

POSTSCRIPT 19/7: The R81 million Green Point Athletics Stadium, being built in the shadow of the Cape Town Stadium, is having Green Point residents fear that a second white elephant is about to appear on their doorstep, reports People’s Post. They also fear the noise levels which could be emanating from the new stadium.

POSTSCRIPT 26/7: The Times reported yesterday that the City of Cape Town has approved the rezoning of the ‘Green Point‘ (sic) Stadium for commercial activity. It will now seek approval from the Western Cape province ‘to amend the land use rights’ for the Cape Town Stadium.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Tourism Grading Council apologises to accommodation industry

The recent attempt by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa to completely overhaul its grading assessment criteria, and then to withdraw most of the proposed changes due to the outcry from the accommodation industry, is the biggest PR gaffe of the body that has been tasked by South African Tourism to set accommodation quality standards.  The Tourism Grading Council’s charming Chief Quality Assurance Officer Thembi Kunene admitted that an error had been made in presenting the first draft to the industry.

We wrote recently about the final decisions the Tourism Grading Council made, relative to the draft proposal, in its new accommodation grading assessment criteria.   At a presentation to the Cape Town accommodation industry at the Cape Town International Convention Centre earlier this week, Ms Kunene was commendably honest in her feedback about the effect the draft proposals had, and that the potential loss of many accommodation establishments from the grading system led to a rethink, and a delay by about four months, in introducing the new assessment criteria.  

The Tourism Grading Council was criticised for only setting up the meeting in Cape Town in November, the city with the largest number of graded establishments in the country, when it had done presentations in Hermanus and Franschhoek, for example, in September already.   The Tourism Grading Council is clearly sensing a concern, and is doing a road show throughout the country during November, to reassure its clients.   The only problem was that the meeting was set for 8h00 – 12h00, the busiest time of day for accommodation establishments – the smaller they are, the more likely it is that the owners are hands-on in their establishments in making breakfast and checking out their guests, and therefore were unable to attend the meeting.  Ironically, an establishment owner said that the only reason why he was able to attend was because he had no guests in his guest house!

What is not understandable, despite the fact that Ogilvy PR handles the public relations for the Tourism Grading Council, is that no PR campaign has been launched to repair the damage caused to its image amongst its clients through the draft assessment criteria document, which was sent to all star-graded properties.  No current star-graded establishment has received any communication to explain that the bulk of the proposed controversial assessment criteria have been scrapped.  Assessors also seem to have been overwhelmed by the controversial process and the number of calls they had to field about the proposed changes, that they themselves have not been proactive in informing their clients about the dramatic turnaround in the new grading assessment criteria.

A sensitive issue is that the Tourism Grading Council has chosen a new formula for the calculation of its annual fees, by weighting the average room rate and number of rooms to come up with the new fee.  In an example provided for a 2-star guest house in Soweto, the fee increase was shown to be 10 %, whereas it was a far larger increase for a larger higher-starred guest house.  The fee increase in excess of the inflation rate attracted strong criticism amongst the attendees, when accommodation establishments have frozen their rates, some as far back as 2007 already.  The fact that a breakfast was provided was raised by Ms Kunene, as if the establishment owners should have been grateful for the mediocre Convention Centre breakfast, consisting of fruit, cereals, yoghurt, rolls and cold meats, and that it should justify the fee increase!   Ironically, Ms Kunene talked about her new iPad, and one wonders why such a R9000 purchase was necessary!   Each attendee also received a gift on departure, unusable to most and thus a wasted expenditure.   One also wonders why KPMG was contracted to handle the revision of the grading criteria assessment, and how much they were paid, for a proposal that has dented the image of the Tourism Grading Council, and with it that of SA Tourism!

We have written previously that technically very little has changed in the assessment criteria.  It was interesting to hear which of the proposed assessment criteria changes attracted the largest industry criticism:

*  airconditioning – an “air temperature control system” is now acceptable as an alternative to airconditioning, but must have adjustable controls, to be set for the level of comfort of the guest.  

*   dinner service – whilst the criteria say that such a service must be made “available”, it is meant that one must make bookings at restaurants for guests, or allow Mr Delivery access to the establishment for food delivery

*   room service and hours – this only applies to hotels now

*   statutory requirements – each province has different requirements for rezoning, trading etc, and therefore a full list had been supplied.   Now the directive is that the applicable provincial requirements must be adhered to.

*   armchairs – this had led to a debate of the exact definition of such chairs, and therefore the criterion was redefined to be a ‘seating space’ per person

*   shower over bath – a glass partition must be made available for 4 and 5-star establishments

Lesser issues in terms of feedback received related to security requirements (scrapped), room dimensions (scrapped), size of TV screen and initial directive that the TV be a flatscreen one (now dropped), down pillows (scrapped), master switch next to bed (scrapped), wardrobe size (scrapped), number of basins in 5-star bathrooms (scrapped), size and placement of mirrors (scrapped), number of clothes hangers (scrapped), breakfast duration (scrapped), and private toilet in open-plan bathrooms (criterion retained).

Another issue was the application form – yes, no matter how long one has been graded, one has to register from scratch.  Here a number of onerous and off-putting information requirements led to further controversy.  They were justified by the Tourism Grading Council as being necessary if one wants to offer accommodation to Government officials.  These information requirements have now been dropped, yet establishments have not been informed of this recent change. 

Whilst the Tourism Grading Council demonstrated its willingness to listen to its customers, the graded establishments of South Africa, its image is severly dented, and it needs to regain the trust and respect of thousands of graded establishments who are considering not renewing their grading or who were inconvenienced by the drama surrounding the attempted changes to the assessment criteria. 

Ms Kunene called me the morning after the presentation, to personally thank me for my contribution to the meeting during question time.  She impressed with her openness and willingness to hear her customers, and requested that I assist the Tourism Grading Council in spreading the word about the fact that barely any changes have in fact been made in the new grading assessment criteria, which we have already done through our previous blog post.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter @WhaleCottage

Cape Town puts sparkle back into liquor trading

Excellent news for Cape Town hoteliers is that the City of Cape Town has admitted that it has made an error in its proposed restrictive liquor trading hours, and has done an about-turn in extending trading until 2h00, even if accommodation establishments are in residential areas, reports the Cape Times today.  Previously the draft called for liquor sales to close at 23h00, which would have had a devastating effect on the bottom line of hotels in particular, and on the employment of staff and tourism in general.

The draft Provincial Liquor Amendment Bill allows each municipality in the Western Cape to define liquor trading hours for hotels, restaurants and pubs.  If they do not define them within the confines of the proposed liquor law, the Bill sets default liquor trading hours which they must abide by.   The Western Cape Bill is a “test case”, in that other provinces are set to model their own liquor legislation on that of the Western Cape, once it has gone to the provincial legislature.

The proposed draft Bill had set liquor trading hours in accommodation establishments, hotels and pubs at 11h00 – 23h00, only allowing such businesses operating in built up business areas to trade until 2h00.  The City of Cape Town’s councillor Taki Amira acknowledged at a Western Cape Provincial Liquor Conference over the weekend that ‘the city had made a mistake in its trading hours provision when it drew up the Provincial Liquor Amendment Bill, which will be passed before the end of the year’.   The Vineyard Hotel and Mount Nelson Hotel operate within residential areas, and would have had to be rezoned to be able to sell alcoholic beverages until 2h00, a process that could take months.  The City admitted that it did not know that not all hotels in residential areas were not rezoned.

Amira lambasted FEDHASA Cape, the hotel association, for not communicating with the City earlier in the process, as the draft legislation had been published more than two years ago.  Whilst FEDHASA calls itself a lobbying body in the interest of its members, it seems to have become powerless in the past few years, rather wishing to stay non-controversial and in its publics’ good books than criticise negative developments on behalf of its members (signing up with MATCH and then losing the bulk of the bookings is an excellent example).   However, the Cape Times quotes FEDHASA has having described the proposed Bill as ‘draconian’ and ‘verkrampte’, heavy words indeed.   FEDHASA Cape only met with Amira a week ago!

Roy Davies, GM of the Vineyard Hotel, is delighted about the City’s about-turn on the trading hours.  He said that a special plea had also been made about the serving of champagne and sparkling wine with breakfast before 11h00, and it would appear that such an amendment would be made. 

Wine farms were also affected by the proposed draft, in that they were to close their liquor sales at 18h00, which would have affected weddings held at such estates as well as restaurants operating on wine farms, with sales banned completely on Sundays.   It would now appear that Sunday trading will be allowed, and that restaurants and function venues on wine farms can serve drinks until midnight.  

The Western Cape province is that with the highest alcohol-related problems, and sought to introduce the Bill to prevent the rise of alcoholism, and to reduce its impact on alcohol-related accidents.

POSTSCRIPT 26/10: Councillor Amira called this morning, and clarified that guest houses and other non-hotel accommodation establishments may serve alcoholic beverages until 23h00.  A special allowance for sparkling wine to be served, in conjunction with a meal, between 8h00 – 11h00, has also been made.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

City puts Guest Accommodation Policy to bed!

After studying industry input to its Draft Guest Accommodation Policy for almost a year, the City of Cape Town adopted the final Guest Accommodation Policy on 7 April.   The announcement came via the Cape Times, and the industry bodies have not reacted to its contentious content.  Not much of the industry feedback and input appears to have been accepted by the City.

 

The need for a unified guest accommodation policy came about because the City of Cape Town consisted of six municipalities previously, each with their own rezoning requirements for accommodation establishments.   The unified City wants to implement one unified accommodation policy, to apply to all new applications for temporary departures and rezoning.

 

The City decided to ignore an industry request that a Bed & Breakfast, defined as an establishment in which the owners live and is predominantly a residential building housing the family, be allowed to have more than three letable bedrooms.   The new Policy stipulates “no more than 3 rooms and no more than 6 paying lodgers/guests per land unit”.   No self-catering facilities are allowed in a B&B at all, a very contentious rule.   B&B’s do not have to apply for temporary departures or rezoning.

 

Guest houses are defined as having a “maximum size of 30 persons or 15 rooms permitted”.   This is an above average large size for a guest house, but this request came from the industry.   What is completely contradictory is that both guest houses and B & B’s are not allowed to employ more than 3 staff members “at any given time”!   It would be impossible for 3 staff members, of whom one would be a manager, to be able to service 15 rooms every day.  It also means that no shifts could be set up, as it would increase the staff requirement.  The hospitality industry is supporting the initiative to curb unemployment, and to have a staff restriction placed upon it is not understandable.  

 

For backpackers, self-catering apartments and hotels no restrictions are set for the number of staff.   All establishment types, even hotels, have to provide on-site parking, one bay or more for every guest room, which many do not offer.

 

All establishments, irrespective of their definition, may not sell alcohol without a licence, and may only sell it at the times of the day specified in the City’s new Draft Liquor by-law, which is yet to be redrafted after the criticism it received from the hospitality industry.

 

More details of the new Guest Accommodation Policy can be found on http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/planningandbuilding/Publications/Documents/Guest_Accommodation_Policy.pdf