The Process Timeline

The history of the process reads backwards, from the latest documents to earlier summaries.

2012: Summary of process and previous letters to friends up to the end of 2012

In a public process the fishing community in Arniston/Waenhuiskrans expressed support for a centre that would curate historical documents of the community and also encourage economic activity. The Fishermen’s Union, who holds title to the land in the historic fishing village, formally agreed to make land available and signed an agreement to that effect with the Trust to help the Union to fund and build the centre.

The Union and the Trust proceeded with plans to build and appointed a land surveyor to survey the land. In his report, the land surveyor pointed out a beacon which previously was not known to either the management committee or members of the Fishermen’s union or members of the community.  The implication was that a triangle of land, about 400 square meters to the harbour did not belong to the fishing community, but to the Cape Agulhas Municipality. The plans for the proposed centre placed the proposed building across this section of land.

The Trust informed the Municipality of the land surveyor’s report. At the time, municipal officials were not aware that the Municipality owned this land.

  • In 2007, at a meeting initiated by the then national Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the mayor of the Cape Agulhas Municipality indicated that the land in question could be made available for the proposed centre.
  • The process to make the land available began in 2008. The fishing community, meanwhile, made available another site, adjacent to the previous site, for the proposed centre, as a precaution of the municipal process to transfer the “lost” section of land is not successful.
  • Architectural plans for the proposed centre were submitted to a panel of town planners and architects, led by Professor Fabio Todeschini of the University of Cape Town and they were involved once again when the new land was made available. After consultation with members of the community and amongst themselves, they approved a new placement, B, for the building, about fifteen meters north of the original proposed placement, A.
  • In September 2010, plans for the proposed centre were once again submitted to SAHRA, the South African Heritage Resource Agency. The historic fishing village is a Grade 1 National Cultural Landscape and falls within the jurisdiction of SAHRA. Officials and board members of SAHRA were generally supportive and in favour of the proposed centre. Following suggestions, especially by one member of the BelCom, SAHRA, however, suggested that the placement of the building should not be B, but A, the original position, which SAHRA initially approved in 2006, before the discovery of the “lost” section of land.
  • The general agreement was that the original site A right next to the harbour was the best possible placement, both for the proposed building site and for the landscape of the historic fishing village. This had also been the community’s preferred site for the proposed building.
  • At this stage, the Cape Agulhas Municipality indicated that they were ready to make a decision to transfer the original site, A, next to the harbour to the Trust, to be used for the proposed centre. The Trust suggested that the land be transferred to the Fishermen’s Union as the Trust had an agreement with the Fishermen’s Union to build the proposed centre on land that would be made available by the Union.

The Trust proceeded with the EIA and NEMA process for approval for Fish House.

  • For the EIA and NEMA process, the Trust appointed an independent agency for the public participation process. The first phase of this public participation process ended on 31 January 2011. There were no objections to the proposed centre and support was expressed from civil society structures. This was a welcome surprise.  After the public participation process there was another period for interested parties to comment. In this process, too, there were no objections to the proposed centre.  See Council’s decision on 26 September 2012 and building plan for Fish House.
  • On 26 September 2012, the Cape Agulhas Council resolved to transfer use of the land for the proposed centre to the Fishermen’s Union.
  • The further process was complicated by another matter. There was no zoning in place for the site; the triangle of land that constitutes the “lost” site discovered by the land surveyor did not appear on cadastral maps. It could have inadvertently when land surveyors extended the boundaries of harbour land and altered the cadastral boundaries of the historic fishing village in the 1970s. At that time, the zoning on this open land was “indeterminate”, a zoning category that has ceased to exist under new laws. By default, the zoning now was agricultural land, which was not appropriate, given the small size of the rocky plot, as well as the fact that it was situated in the centre of the town.  In December, the Municipality, on advice also from the provincial Department of Planning, eventually rezoned the “lost” section of land.
  • By November 2011, the Trust eventually had sought and obtained approval for the proposed centre from SAHRA (16 November 2010); from Heritage Western Cape (26 October 2011); and from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (17 November 2011). In the course of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) process, comment was also invited from the public and from various interested parties, amongst them the Cape Agulhas Municipality, Cape Nature and the South African Department of Agriculture.
  • On March 6, 2012, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Planning issued a final authorisation (Environmental Authorisation) to support Vishuis.
  • From 17 February to 26 September 2012, the Cape Agulhas Municipality followed a public process and took actions to meet:
  1. Section 14 and 33 of the MFMA;
  2. Section 40 of the SCM TR;
  3. The Council’s Supply Chain Management Policy (SCMP & S);
  4. The Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations (MATR);
  5. The Council’s Land Disposal Policy, 2011 (LDP).
  • On 26 September 2012 the Council decided to alienate the relevant portion of land along the harbor from the Arniston Fishermen’s Union, for the construction of Vishuis.
  • In April 2012 building plans for Fish House were approved by the Cape Agulhas Municipality. An amendment, which has to do with the exact placement of the building on the site was approved in December 2012.
  • Between 26 September and 14 December 2012 a further verification process was followed to ensure that all legal steps and requirements are correctly and adequately followed.

The proposed centre be built on land made available by the Cape Agulhas Municipality, to  the Fishermen’s Union. The Trust will assist, the local fishing community are the beneficiaries of the Trust. Should the Trust ever cease to function, the building could only pass on to another organization or institution which has the whole of the fishing community of Arniston as its beneficiary.  In a long and complicated process, a forgotten piece of unused, vacant land will now find productive use to benefit the community.  This is now possible through the efforts of many people in various organizations, including the Cape Agulhas Municipality, the Fishermen’s Union, SAHRA, and many others.

2 October 2013: Letter to the friends of Fish House

Dear friends

In July 2013, Mr. Robert Haarburger applied for an interdict to prevent the Cape Agulhas Municipality from transferring erf 758 to the Fishermen’s Union for the use of Fish House.  Yesterday, previous Council and Municipal decisions were set aside, to llow the Municipality to redo the process.  In the new process, the Municipality will correct administrative errors.

The Trust had previously followed an extensive public process to get permission for the construction of Fish House. Permission was granted by the Western Cape Government and the Cape Agulhas Municipality. There were no objections to the planned centre during this process. The centre was being built on land owned by the Fishermen’s Union and partly also on erf 758, made available by the Cape Agulhas Municipality to the Fishermen’s Union.

The trustees want to see an amicable solution and will act in good faith to assist wherever possible to conclude the new process. It is not possible to predict how long this new process to transfer the land may take. The community will have to wait for the benefits that Fish House is expected to bring.

The Trust meanwhile continues with other projects in the community, including bursaries and other support for students at tertiary institutions, and support for community organisations and small enterprises.

8 December 2014: Letter to the friends of Fish House

Dear Friends

Approval in principle for land to house Fish House came from the Council of the Cape Agulhas Municipality this week. There will be  opportunity for comment on the decision by members of the public.

The building of Fish House was interrupted in 2013.  The Cape Agulhas Municipality was advised to have previous decisions on Fish House set aside, and to redo the process and correct administrative errors while doing so.

The Council in principle approved the recommendations of a draft management report on Fish House this week.

The report provides an overview of the reasons why the Municipality supports the project. The report also deals with objections against the project.

We trust that we will soon be able to complete Fish House.  Meanwhile the extension and restoration of the historic Fishermen’s Union Hall, with funds facilitated by the Trust, will begin early in 2015. The intention is that the Union Hall and Fish House will complement one another in use and function within the community.

The trustees are grateful for the patience and understanding of the friends who so generously support Fish House. We believe Fish House will be a transformative asset for the community.

26 February 2016: Letter to the friends of Fish House

Dear Friends

Fish House was approved once again by the Cape Agulhas Municipality this week.

The Municipality had previously approved Fish House but in 2013 an objection stopped construction before Fish House could be completed.

The Municipality informed us that they did not regard the objection to be substantive. However, because of administrative errors, the Municipality asked the Cape High Court to set aside previous decisions on fish House and allow the Cape Agulhas Municipality to redo the process. In doing so the Municipality could correct the errors, while it also gave ample opportunity to the objector for further objections at every stage of the process.

These objections and the consideration of it by the Municipality and the approval, once again of the project, are contained in the Final Report for the Council of the Cape Agulhas Municipality and the minutes of the council meeting, 23 February 2016.

We now plan to complete Fish House as soon as possible.

On behalf of the trustees, our sincere thanks for your patience and support in this project.