Updated 24 June 2015

The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is accused of illegal building activities

Members of the public are invited to submit comments regarding the 'illegal construction' of additional buildings at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town.


Netwerk24 reported that the luxury Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town has been 'caught red-handed' developing areas around the hotel without the necessary building permissions.

Apparently it is the fear of fires engulfing the multi-million Rand hotel and spa that had brought the additional buildings, some of which were constructed as far back as 2003, to light. 

The new structures, according to Draft Environmental Management Programme: Expansion of the Development Footprint at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Oudekraal, Cape Town and compiled by Chand Environmental Consulting are: 

- Addition of two (2x) gazebos on the mountain side of the structure.

The gazebos are used as massage rooms with an ocean view as an extension of the spa facilities offered inside the hotel;

Addition of helicopter landing area (helipad);

Addition of two (2x) sun decks (tanning desks) in the vicinity of the hotel pool area;

Provision of a lawn used for wedding ceremonies; and

Commencement of cleaning of land and excavation works for the purpose of installing underground water tank(s) for use in fire management.

Image: Aerial view of the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa showing the original building (outlined in red) and the additional structures. Source: Chand.

twelve apostles

They have allegedly been built on land that was zoned for agriculture and without the necessary environmental impact studies. 

The award-winning if controversial hotel, situated above Victoria Drive between Camps Bay and Llandudno, was built on part of the historical farm Oudewerf on the slopes of the Gewelberg. The hotel was sold by advertising agency guru Mel Miller in 1992 to developer Steven Jones for R3.1 million who, amidst great controversy, built a R40 million hotel and conference centre.

Chand mentioned in an advertisement in a local newspaper, The Atlantic Sun, that applications have been made to rectify the “illegal” manner in which the additional developments were made. 

The purpose of the application is to obtain retrospective permission for the developments that have already taken place..

Michael Tollman, a member of the Tollman family, whose companies own The Twelve Apostles, said that these structures are “not really illegal constructions”. 

Image: Aerial view of the helipad and massage gazebos. Source: Chand

twelve apostles

According to Tollman they are temporary structures, and: 

No one has ever made any complaints;

No income has been generated from the structures;

The helipad is “just a basic landing pad” for which permission was gained from the Civil Aviation Authority;

It is not an unsightly structure that is visible from Victoria Drive; and

 They don’t affect the use of the hotel. According to Tollman the only reason why permission is now being sought to expand the area for development is to enable the installation of the underground water tanks.   

Water from these tanks is needed to extinguish fires. 

 “We’ve been trying for a long time to do something about the danger of fires in the area,” said Tollman.

Fire hazard

About a year ago a fire turned in close proximity to The Twelve Apostles. According to Tollman the wind changed direction just in time.  

Apparently the water pressure in the municipal water pipes is not strong enough to extinguish fires and that is why it was decided that water tanks were the best solution.    

According to the application for public comment the supplementing infrastructure was constructed on land that was zoned for agricultural use.  

Application for rezoning of the area will have to be made with the Cape Town City Council.

The application is being made concurrent with the environmental impact study.

¦ The documents supporting the application are available on the website The document is available for a 30-day public review period from 12 June 2015 - 14 July 2015. Members of the public are invited to please submit comments by 14 July 2014.


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