Killarney track seeks new lease

An aerial view of the Killarney race track

The lease that the Killarney International Raceway holds on municipal land will expire at the end of December and the application to renew it is due to go out for public comment.

Western Province Motor Club (WPMC) has been renting the 513130m² property for the past 74 years. The club is applying to renew the lease for a further 15 years.

A 40-page lease application was circulated to various departments in the City, where 12 departments approved but two objected to renewing the lease.

The environmental and heritage management department said the tenant was responsible for an “illegal” soil berm along the western boundary of the property, which encroached on the Diep River floodplain. The berm sat on two of the City’s gravity sewer lines, and it could cause downstream flooding and liability to the City.

The water and sanitation department said it had no maintenance access to a 450mm water pipeline and a 600mm sewer pipeline on the property.

Sunridge resident Rayben Moore said he would object because he was concerned about the noise and air pollution on the race track.

“There are cars and bikes burning their tyres, and there are fuel emissions going up into the air which is concerning.”

Ward 113 councillor Joy Solomon said she supported the renewal of the lease because the track offered a safe and legal alternative to illegal street racing.

Killarney International Raceway executive manager Des Easom said events held at the track contributed R375 million to the local economy annually and the renewal of the lease would allow the track to continue being an asset to Cape Town.

“Because of its positive contribution, there has always been support for the application from all of Killarney’s neighbours as well as from the controlling bodies of motorsport in South Africa and internationally,” he said.

Killarney was the home of motorsport in the Western Cape, being the only true multi-purpose motorsport facility featuring many different forms of motorsport, including main-circuit racing, drags, oval track, karting, rallycross, drifting, spinning and short-circuit events, he said.

Killarney was also used by cyclists for training and events as well as for duathlons and marathons as it was a safe environment and did not require traffic support or road closures.

The City was aware of the “illegal” soil berm, he said, adding that it had been there for many years and helped to dampen noise pollution.

If the lease was not renewed, there would be illegal land invasions on the site, as there had already been attempts during the initial lockdown periods in 2020 when the track had been closed for events, he said.

The property had been developed over the past seven decades and WPMC members had ploughed money into maintenance and upgrades, he said.

The club had asked to buy the property, but the City had told him that it was not for sale.

According to mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos, the WPMC pays the City an annual rent of R7 210.36, excluding VAT, for the site and is responsible for maintenance costs, rates and utility bills.

The application on the table was for the WPMC to enter into a new lease, he said. If an application was made to buy the land, as with the sale of any City land, due process would have to be followed and different council branches consulted.

The departments that had objected had been advised by the City that the club was not aware, nor had the club been notified by the City, of any flooding ever caused by the berm, Mr Vos said.

“While there is not a set date when the public participation process will begin, the City is confident that through a step-by-step, transparent consideration of all possible challenges, mitigating solutions and inputs, that the best outcome will be determined,” he said.