Amazon headquarters saga — how developers could restart construction

Leisbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) has appealed the interdict ordering it to cease construction on the development that would house Amazon’s South African headquarters. If successful, construction could resume.
This was revealed by the chairperson of the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), Leslie London, during an interview with Cape Talk.
London believes that the developers are relying on being granted leave to appeal rather than having the interdict overturned.
“Normally, an interim interdict is not appealable as it is an interim decision. They argued in court that the effect of the interdict was final and therefore they could appeal it,” he explained.
“They are hoping that by appealing it, the interdict prohibition on building will be lifted so they can continue construction until the matter becomes before the High Court for review.”
London explained that, in this scenario, the construction would be much further along by the time it reaches the High Court.
“That is their strategy. They are not expecting the interdict to be overturned, they are expecting the interdict to be appealable, and therefore the construction could continue,” he said.
LLPT appealed the High Court interdict in March 2022, saying it would result in thousands of lost jobs in the Western Cape if the decision were allowed to stand.
“It is clear that the court failed to consider properly, or at all, the evidence that by interdicting the LLPT from carrying out any construction work, the LLPT and the wider community would suffer severe and irreversible harm out of all proportion to that which might be sustained by the applicants, and none was evidenced by them,” the developer argued.
According to London, the judge is still considering the application. He also explained that one of the parts of the interdict — meaningful consultation — was not being met.
“Since the interdict was granted, which included two parts: one was no building, and the other was meaningful consultation, we haven’t seen anything from the point of view of the respondents regarding meaningful consultations,” he said.
“In fact, we’ve probably seen quite the opposite. There’s been quite a severe kickback against the Khoi entities supporting the opposition to the development.”
London added that the OCA had also received a fair amount of backlash.
They had offered the developers conciliation under the National Environmental Management Act, which was rejected.
Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Goliath ordered that construction at the R4.6-billion Observatory redevelopment must be ceased “urgently” on 20 March 2022.
LLPT at the time revealed that it had employed just short of 4,000 workers, of which it had to furlough 750 after the High Court interdict was granted.
It added that around 500 workers in factories supplying building materials for the site were also affected.
The City of Cape Town gave the construction of the River Club development the go-ahead in April 2021, with Amazon as the anchor tenant from the outset.

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