John Siebert, Noordhoek
I refer to the Echo article, “Four storey flats gets thumbs down,” Echo September 24, concerning a four-storey block of flats, and Marian Nieuwoudt’s brusque dismissal of local objectors’ arguments in support of James Ricketts.
Over the past nine months or so, four change-of-land-use applications relating to the Noordhoek Sunnydale area, but potentially affecting the entire south peninsula, have been, or shortly will be, filed with the City of Cape Town municipal planning department.
The first (case ID 70476092) is for a 600-pupil school to be built near the corner of Main and Silvermine roads in Noordhoek, currently a large open space of grassland used by an animal-rescue group for pasturing their horses
The second (case ID 70475508) applies to an erf bounded by Sunnydale Road, Buller Louw Drive and Bordeaux and Carlton Roads, to be used essentially as an extension of Longbeach Mall car park (there is also provision for landscaping but not for public transport).
The third (case ID 70495265), proposes a mixed-use development (office, shops/retail) additional self-storage and basement parking) on an erf adjacent to the erf of the second application and bordering on the wetlands.
The fourth, in preparation, will be for the conversion of the present Chapman’s Peak Caravan Farm into a 24-unit housing estate with a connection into Main Road opposite the school.
Public consultation processes as required by law have already been completed.
However by any reasonable standards they must be regarded as gravely flawed in that during the lockdown period no public transport was available for potential objectors to view relevant documentation at the municipal offices in Plumstead, nor were municipal libraries in Fish Hoek or nearby open for this material to be viewed online by those without laptops, smartphones etc.
In particular nothing was available at the Fish Hoek municipal offices, and the libraries remain closed.
Thus large numbers of concerned local residents could not make their opinions known. It is clear in fact that the whole process of adjudicating land usage applications by Cape Town municipal planning is biased against objectors. Nearly three years ago, Felicity Purchase, the mayoral committee member for transport, admitted in a response to an Echo letter, of January 18 2018, that local concerns about social cohesion, ever-increasing traffic volumes etc. in the south peninsula were “very legitimate” and issues which the city had tried on numerous occasions to remedy, “so far unsuccessfully.”
All four of the above applications will, in fact, have the effect of increasing traffic volumes, as well as of compromising the recovery of the local tourist Industry, either directly, through the closure of the caravan park (a scenically world-class and ideal destination for health conscious visitors), or indirectly through environment degradation (the effect on indigenous vegetation etc.).
Both Felicity Purchase and Marian Nieuwoudt therefore need to reflect and realise that a new approach perhaps based on the integrated planning (or district) model, which was outlined by the president in his 2020 State of the Nation address, is necessary to remedy the socio-economic woes of the area.
This would allow consideration of alternatives beyond the narrow proposals of profit-driven investors, developers, mall owners etc.
For example, in the present case, could not the school (application 1) be built on the mixed-use site (application 3) closer to population centres, or the caravan park (application 4) continue in its present form possibly under refreshed management, failing which be transformed into an environmental education centre? And why, after years of conversation with Growthpoint, through their mall manager and Ms Purchase (see Echo letter of 2018), is it still necessary to ask for a properly equipped bus shelter for Golden Arrow passengers?
These kinds of suggestions would emerge naturally in the course of genuine public consultative processes, locally based, and made mandatory by amended local government legislation.
The integration district model encourages public engagement as well as stakeholder involvement, and both Ms Nieuwoudt and Ms Purchase would do well to emerge from their municipal silo to study it.
* Mayoral committee member for spatial planning Marian Nieuwoudt responds:
In relation to case 70476092, the advertisement for this application was placed in newspapers on February 28. The closing date for comments was March 30, three days into level 5 of the national lockdown. Twenty-two registered letters were sent to interested and affected property owners and the provincial roads’ engineer. The registered slips are dated February 24. Three on-site notices were placed on the property, one on Silvermine Road and two on Noordhoek Main Road. The on-site notices were displayed from February 28 to March 30
The ward councillor and the ratepayers were notified by email on February 24.
The ward councillor in a return email stated that she takes note of the application and will respond with comment if necessary. Twenty-nine letters of objections and four letters of support/no objection were received.
This application still needs to be referred to the Municipal Planning Tribunal for consideration.
In relation to case 70475508, the Municipal Planning By-law does not require the advertising of this application in newspapers and the placement of on-site notices. Fifty-seven registered letters were sent to interested and affected property owners, the ratepayers’ association and the provincial roads’ engineer. The registered slips are dated March 2. The closing date for comments was April 7, 11 days into the national lockdown. Eight on-site notices were placed on the property, two on Sunnydale Road, two on Buller Louw Drive, two on Bordeaux Road, one on Carlton Road and one near Longboat and Lidia roads. The on-site notices were displayed from March 6 to April 7. The ward councillor was notified by email on March 2. One letter of objection was received and later another objection was received. The Municipal Planning Tribunal has approved this application, but the objector can appeal this decision by submitting an appeal to the City’s planning appeals advisory panel.
In relation 70495265, advertising of this application in newspapers and the placement of on-site notices is not required in terms of the Municipal Planning By-law.
Twenty-five registered letters were sent to interested and affected property owners and the ratepayers association. The registered slips are dated June 30. The closing date for comments was August 10, after level 5 of the national lockdown was lifted. Importantly, an extended advertising period of 40 days was given in this instance. Two on-site notices were placed on the property, one on Carlton Road and one opposite the professional offices. The on-site notices were displayed from June 30 to August 11.The ward councillor was notified by email on July 2. Nine letters of objections were received. The owner has subsequently amended (downscaled) this application. All the objectors have, in writing, withdrawn their objections.
Given that there are no objections to this application, a delegated official will make the decision on this application.
The City has not received an application for the Chapman’s Peak Caravan site.
In these cases, a large number of residents have been notified and some have made their opinions known. Also, in all applications, aspects such as traffic impact, tourism and environmental issues are taken into consideration.
Applications are not required in terms of the Municipal Planning By-law to be advertised in libraries.