“Why walk along the busiest road in town if you can walk next to the sea?”
This is the question many residents ask about the cliff path.
According to Jobre Stassen, chairperson of the Cliff Path Action Group, this can be resolved if the Hermanus Cliff Path continues from Sea Road to Mollergren Park Retirement Village, along the shoreline, in a similar way the rest of the cliff path follows the coast from the New Harbour all the way to Grotto Beach.
“It is most unfortunate, and the reasons are outdated, that right in the middle of the route the path abruptly turns away from the sea to follow the pavement of Main Road/R43. The obvious thing to do is to connect the cliff path,” she said.
Stassen says the local municipality is still in denial and clings to an obscure policy of managing the area as a no-go area for the public. “It is a real tragedy, as this viewpoint prevents the municipality from materialising opportunities to extend the cliff path via Poole’s Bay on behalf of the public.”
A municipal notice recently placed in Hermanus Times creates, according to the action group, such an opportunity. The notice announced an application for subdivision of Erf 12257, 15 Quantum Street, Eastcliff, Hermanus.
“Except if Sea Road had a name change, this property is Jooste’s big hole,” Stassen said. “The application for subdivision of erf 12257 provides the golden opportunity for the local municipality to apply the Integrated Coastal Management Act section 18(9) to secure longshore access to the coast by servitude right of way in favour of pedestrian access.”
In accordance with Section 18(9) each municipality approving the rezoning, subdivision or development of a land unit within or abutting on coastal public property must ensure adequate provision is made in the conditions of approval to secure public access to that coastal public property, which includes the seashore.
“The law couldn’t be clearer,” says Stassen.
A report released in September last year by the Western Cape Government on coastal access to the Overberg coastline, identified Poole’s Bay as site Her12 and explicitly states on page 116 of the report, that “[t]his is a conflict area and the right of access for the public needs to be resolved”.
Stassen said the municipality now has the opportunity to resolve the matter on behalf of the public.
“The coastline in front of erf 12257 is particularly tricky,” she said. “High cliffs and the rugged rocks make access difficult. The current informal footpath that hugs the coast is in many places above the high water mark and therefor technically on private property. The municipality has the mandate to secure access for the public to the coastline and envisage the cliff path to continue via Poole’s Bay.
“We would like to encourage members of the public to request the municipality to make provision for the extension of the cliff path in front of erf 12257.”
Written comments need to be submitted before 24 May to email@example.com quoting your name, address and contact details, interest in the application and reasons for comment.
Says Stassen: “We cannot leave this in the hope that the municipality will act on behalf of the public. The same opportunity of subdivision happened in 2013 when the original erf 1233 owned by Gavin Relly was subdivided. The Relly subdivision application pointed out the need to continue the cliff path along the shoreline of the property. Several similar opportunities presented itself over the past few years as the Jooste property underwent applications for consolidation as well as development.”. The Cliff Path Action Group is conducting a community-funded project to extend the cliff path along Poole’s Bay. In the regulatory environment of 2019 building of a concrete structure is infinitely more complex than the process followed by the founders of the cliff path, Eric Jones and Ion Williams, many decades ago. The current process involves an extensive environmental authorisation process taking more than a year to conclude. Once this process is completed it will make the task at hand so much easier and more cost-effective if a servitude is in place for the cliff path to counter the challenging topography of the coastline in-front of erf 12257.
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