Thumbs down for fourth storey

The building at the entrance to the Evergreen Noordhoek Retirement Village on Glencairn Expressway.

The developer of a Noordhoek retirement complex is appealing a municipal planning authority’s decision that stops it from adding a fourth floor to a block of flats.

Evergreen Property Investments, part of the Amdec Group, is developing the Evergreen Noordhoek Retirement Village, including a three-storey block of flats, on land zoned General Residential 2 (GR2), allowing buildings up to 15m high.

The City approved plans for the development in 2017, but there have been several amendments since then, including reducing the number of flats from the 200 originally proposed. In the latest application, Evergreen sought to change the number of units to 120 and add the fourth storey, taking the building from a height of 11.765m, as conceived in an earlier plan, to 12.935m.

The municipal planning tribunal rejected the proposal for a fourth floor, after getting 43 objections from, among others, the Stonehaven Estate Homeowners Association, Wingate Heights, Stonehaven Estate, Sun Valley and Fish Hoek mountainside residents and Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (FHVRRA).

The objectors said the building would devalue surrounding properties and be in full view of homes behind it. They were also unhappy about the aesthetics of a more continuous roof design and said the building would become unsightly and visually intrusive, among other things.

Linette Kempster, representing fellow Stonehaven Estate homeowners, said agreements with Evergreen on the development’s scale were being eroded.

She said the developers based their application and appeal on amendments of a previously approved height of a different roof design with eight apexes, where only the very top of the apexes were at the height that the developers now wanted for a continuous flat-roof design.

Residents suspected the stairway they had seen leading up from the third floor had been built in anticipation of the fourth-storey application being approved, she said.

Evergreen had suggested the height of the new building was reduced, when in fact, it had increased by 1.233m, compared to approved 2019 plans, she said.

Most homeowners, she said, opposed a fourth storey.

“The current three-storey building is already a long, monolithic-type structure that can be seen from a wide radius in the valley and is not in keeping with the townscape and landscape character. It will impact property values, integrity, aesthetics and the environment.”

Trevor Botsis, also of Stonehaven Estate, said adding a fourth storey would make the building look like military barracks.

The Amdec Group CEO, James Wilson, said Evergreen had current building rights for a height of 11.765m, and in 2018 it had had approval of plans for a height of 14.463m although it had not gone on to build to that height.

A fourth storey would be 1.17m above the already approved 11.765m for a height of 12.935m and would have minimal effect, he said.

Construction of the block had started in August last year, he said, denying that work had started on a fourth floor.

A staircase leading to the fourth floor.

In its appeal, Evergreen says the site was previously mined for kaolin, and large industrial buildings were once in clear view of Stonehaven Estate and surrounding properties. Furthermore, the building’s height is lower than 2018 City-approved plans, the steep embankment between the site and Stonehaven Estate hides the flats from view, and a fourth storey would disappear into the landscape.

FHVRRA chairman Brian Youngblood said the association favoured development in line with good urban-design principles. It had tried to work with Evergreen, but revisions to its plans had grown steadily worse.

“The number of units has varied from 200 to 96 to now 120. The roof height has been continually raised to now accommodate four floors. It is for these reasons that we have supported those most impacted, the Stonehaven Homeowners Association and individuals in Sun Valley. We’ve even received complaints from residents in Evergreen Noordhoek who wanted to remain anonymous”.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said Evergreen’s appeal was being circulated for comment, after which the planning appeals advisory panel would submit its recommendation to the mayor for a final decision.

To sign a petition to prevent the fourth storey from going up, visit www.change.org/evergreen4thfloorobjection