Fish Hoek ‘in the drink’ after judge allows its first drankwinkel
It's been a dry town for two centuries, but times are changing thanks to a Pick n Pay victory
What does it take to get a drink in Fish Hoek? Exactly 200 years and a judgment in favour of Pick n Pay.
The retail giant, known for catchy slogans such as “We’re on your side”, won a Western Cape Liquor Authority appeal this week against the liquor licensing tribunal, paving the way for it to open a liquor store in the south peninsula town.
Although bars and restaurants are licensed to sell alcohol in the Fish Hoek valley, liquor stores have been forbidden ever since the area was proclaimed a dry town in its founding document – two centuries ago.
Since then residents have repelled numerous attempts to open a bottle store, claiming the social ills would outweigh the benefits.
Not so, said Judge Deon van Zyl, who found no compelling reason Pick n Pay’s application should be denied.
“There is no doubt that there is a very real need for a liquor store in Fish Hoek, and its proposed location in the Arcade Centre is certainly an excellent choice,” Van Zyl said in his judgment.
“It goes without saying that granting a liquor licence will create a far greater convenience for the public [Pick n Pay] intends to serve than retaining the status quo. They will certainly not be worse off, and there is no proof that it will lead to parking problems or traffic congestion arising from deliveries to the proposed store.
“It cannot be anticipated that the character or ethos of the town will be negatively affected, and there is not the slightest indication that property values will decrease or crime will increase.”
Donald Moore, a retired attorney who helped to gather the hundreds of objections to Pick n Pay’s application, said the judgment meant the liquor authority was now obliged to give Pick n Pay a licence for a bottle store.
“In my view this is a disaster for Fish Hoek and the inevitable consequence is that there will be further applications for bottle stores and it is likely that they will all be granted unless the citizens of Fish Hoek do rally around and mount a concerted opposition to any such applications,” Moore said.
“It seems that the judge was of the view that 250-plus objections by Fish Hoek residents was not sufficient reason for refusing the application even though there was no support for the application at the time of the public participation process at the beginning of 2017.”
Fish Hoek ’s dry status dates from June 1818, when Cape governor Lord Charles Somerset granted the farm Visch Hoek to Andries Bruin on condition that he should “not keep a public wine house”.
Ever since, the deed has been brandished by bottle store opponents – most notably in 1956, when nine applications were rejected.
Pick n Pay could not be reached for comment on Thursday.