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