City Red Tape causes Delays to Fibre Optic Project

DIY-Guide-For-Speeding-up-your-Internet-Connection51

Since the last newsletter in October there has been some progress (albeit at a snail’s pace) with this project which the CRRA helped to initiate in December 2013. Craig Carthy, a director of Link Africa, gave an overview of FTTH at our AGM in October as well as an update of the processes that have been completed with the City or still needed to be resolved:

  • The technical investigation is complete
  • Payments have been made by Link Africa
  • The legal agreement with the City has been done
  • Input was received from the City’s 24 sub-councils – this was one of the causes of delays  because many of the councillors had questions regarding the process
  • Public participation process: At their December meeting, full Council gave the go-ahead for the formal Public Participation Process (this PPP was required despite the Constantia Fibre project team having conducted a private survey where 2000 residents were in support)
  • The PPP process ended on 11 February and by all accounts there was overwhelming support. The City Director for Information Systems has informed us that the report on the PPP now has to be presented to several committees (including the Mayoral committee) before going to full Council again on 31st March for final approval.

The process described above only applies to the installation of fibre where existing sewer and storm water reticulation systems are used. Some of the fibre is in traditional trenches and Link Africa have been actively busy with this, however again permits (called wayleaves) are required from the City to excavate in public property – another red tape delay
The latest information from Link Africa is that they have received some permits (there is a backlog of processing due to the December shutdown and many of the wayleaves approved late last year expired and had to be renewed but at least it is now beginning to flow. They will issue another schedule showing the revised anticipated dates that the fibre will be installed.
Of interest is that Link Africa were recently awarded the Frost & Sullivan Awards * for Cutting-edge Technology in Telecoms Infrastructure for their innovative methods of deploying fibre optic networks in existing sewers and storm water networks, but in spite of that they have encountered more red tape in Cape Town than in any other city.
*Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. To quote from this article:

“Link Africa builds and operates its own fibre optic networks and has the capacity to build more than 3,500 km of metropolitan backbone in the key metropolitan areas of South Africa,” said Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Joanita Roos. Link Africa’s fibre optic cables are deployed in existing municipal service networks, significantly reducing deployment costs as the provision of trenches and ducts accounts for up to 80 percent of fibre optic network costs.”

Furthermore the technology reduces the risk of civil disruption, ensures route independence and is up to four times faster to deploy. It is also particularly superior in the fibre to the home (FTTH) market as it minimizes the need for streets or pavements to be dug up.



Development Plans for Ladies Mile Drop-off Site

Rumours are rife regarding what is happening at the ‘Ladies Mile Garden Refuse drop-off site’ and the owners/developers have at last allowed us to provide an overview.
In August 2015, the CPOA attended a presentation by the owners (represented by Mr Rashaad Solomon), Shoprite Checkers Property Division and members of their project professional team.
Firstly, it is important to define the property in question as it is not the entire site bounded by the M3, Ladies Mile, Spaanschemat River Rd and Kendal Road (i.e. erf 4724). It is limited to erven 13707 and 13708, together comprising a trapezoidal shaped land portion of approximately 1,5 hectares between the traffic lights and the M3 – around 20% of the whole site.
Rashaad gave an overview of the history of the property which the Solomon family purchased in 1902. They farmed vegetables and grapes for both local consumption and export. The property was considered to be Constantia’s commercial hub and there were 3 farm stalls (fresh produce, butcher and a dairy) where other farmers (of all races) sold their produce and bought provisions. The family were forced to leave the property in the 1960’s under the Group Areas Act.
Having been awarded the property in a protracted land restitution claim process, the family are keen to “bring back what was there”, although obviously farming is not a viable proposition. The Land Claims Commissioner required a business plan from the claimants as part of the Settlement Agreement. Thus the vision for the entire site, including another portion east of the M3, is for a mixed use development including residential and public open spaces which can be cross subsidized with some commercial and retail components.
The proposal for this first portion is for an ‘upmarket’ retail centre comprising a flagship Checkers on the M3 side and signature buildings on the Ladies Mile side including restaurants and convenience shops. A basement will cover the entire site to accommodate parking, services, storage and loading. The intention is to create an ‘open environment’ with low level walling, landscaping and lighting will be ‘low intensity’. Checkers will have a trading space of approximately 2900 m2, and the total development is approximately 9850 m2 including basement parking etc.
A lot of thought has gone into dealing with site access/traffic and the planners have discussed with the City the possibility of a traffic circle at the Ladies Mile/Spaanschemat River Rd intersection.
The application process has commenced, with applications having been submitted to Heritage Western Cape, the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the City of Cape Town – the Application Pre-Consultation Phase has been concluded with the City.
Subsequent to finalisation and formal acceptance of the Land Use Application by the City, the application will be advertised in terms of a public participation programme whereby the public will be afforded the opportunity to comment on the proposed development.


 Historic farm saved from development

Glen Dirk

This is the view that we are all familiar with taken from the M3 where the tall pines were felled. Glen Dirk farm is in the distance on the other side of Chart Farm.

Last year the CPOA reported to members that the Association had launched a High Court Application in November 2014 for the review and setting aside of a decision taken by the Council of the City of Cape Town in April 2014, whereby an application for the rezoning and subdivision of the historic Glen Dirk Farm was approved for purposes of residential development.  Glen Dirk farm has been recognised by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) as a heritage resource of national significance.

The subdivision and rezoning application was considered by all the City’s specialist departments and in each instance these departments, including Environmental and Heritage Management, recommended against approval.  The reasons were that
  • the application is not consistent with any of the City’s own approved policies,
  • Glen Dirk Farm is integral to one of the most significant agricultural anchors in the Constantia-Tokai Valley, and
  • subdivision would not only reduce arable farmland, but would have a negative impact on the character of the Valley.

The City’s specialist departments also commented that the alienation of portions of the farm to make the remainder viable cannot be used as an argument for the application and also that the alienation of portions of the farm is against the “public good”. Notwithstanding that, Glen Dirk farm is identified by SAHRA as having the highest possible heritage resource grading (Grade I – meaning it is of national significance).
Despite the recommendations of the City’s own specialist departments against approval as well as strong arguments by this Association, the Council of the City approved the application in its entirety after the Mayoral Committee and the Executive Mayor had made a recommendation for approval.
This Association’s High Court application was opposed by the City of Cape Town and the owners of Glen Dirk farm.  There were lengthy delays in the High Court proceedings because the City did not adhere to the Rules of Court.  The owners of Glen Dirk farm also launched a counter-application against this Association’s Executive Committee (ExCo) members with the intention of holding them jointly and severally liable for costs.
We are now delighted to report to our members that after we recently launched an interim application to compel the City to file its answering papers, the City withdrew its opposition to our High Court application and tendered to pay our costs.  The owners of Glen Dirk farm have also withdrawn their opposition and their counter-application against our ExCo members.
This Association’s decision to institute High Court proceedings to have the irrational decision of the Council of the City set aside and our pursuit of these proceedings against resistance from the City and even after the owners of Glen Dirk launched a counter-application against our ExCo members, has now been completely vindicated by the collapse of the City and the owners of Glen Dirk farm in their opposition to our application.
Our members can be assured that this Association will continue to work tirelessly towards the conservation of the historic farms in the Constantia-Tokai Valley and to prevent at all costs their subdivision for residential development.



Major intersection on Constantia Main Road nears completion – finally

For many years the CRRA have been asking the City to upgrade the intersection of Constantia Main Rd/Parish Rd and Ladies Mile Extension to cater for rush hour traffic and thus alleviate the long tailbacks – particularly traffic coming from the Constantia Nek side and being blocked by vehicles turning right into Ladies Mile Extension. For most of last year it was reported to us that design was in progress and then finally in November construction commenced. The design solution was somewhat a ‘fait accompli’ with no invitation from the City for the CRRA or general public to comment.
Thus, when we were eventually given a copy of the drawings, we were rather disappointed that the design seemed inadequate in fully addressing the problem. Nevertheless, we requested an on-site meeting with City officials/consultants, which Councillor Liz Brunette was able to arrange. City engineer Tim de Villiers explained the following:

  • A traffic circle was considered but rejected because
    1. Circles do not work well when there are different volumes of traffic entering from the feeder roads, which is the case here as Constantia Main Rd has much higher volumes, and because vehicles on the minor feeders have to give way and have difficulty entering
    2. Approximately 45 meters would be required for an appropriately sized traffic circle which would mean land expropriation and re-aligning Constantia Main Road. Also, the cost of re-locating underground services would be prohibitive
  • Traffic counts that were done did not warrant right turning lanes in Parish Road and Ladies Mile Extension. They are aware of the tailbacks but believe that this will be alleviated through the correct timing settings for the traffic lights. The CRRA are on record as objecting to this omission. In response,  the City agreed to monitor the effectiveness  and if there is still a problem, other solutions may be considered;
  • The right turn lanes in Constantia Main Road have been lengthened (more than shown on the initial plan), which is in line with CRRA concerns;
  • The City will provide access for verge parking on both sides of Constantia Main Road for overflow parking for Christ Church;
  • There have been construction delays due to unforeseen complications with underground services but the project should be completed by the end of March.

Below is an engineering drawing of the project:

  


Constantia Village goes green

With growing pressure on the country’s electricity grid, The Constantia Village has taken it upon themselves to make a difference and to contribute to the Western Cape’s goal of becoming the greenest region in South Africa. Over the past couple of months, one of the country’s largest rooftop solar plants has been installed at the centre. Approval by the CRRA was required in terms of a Servitude Agreement dating back to when the centre was first approved. After a lot of debate, resulting in some re-design and conditions being imposed, this was granted.
The first phase of the solar installation was completed in early December 2015 and will see the centre’s energy consumption reduced by almost 20%. So far, 5 010 m² of the main shopping centre’s roof has been covered with solar panels, and another 1500 m2 is currently being planned which is aimed to be added during the first half of 2016. The second phase includes panels on the walkway roof which will be visible from the parking area – given that this may be visually undesirable to some people, Growthpoint are looking at alternative non-visible areas for panels. The second phase panels are required to make the whole installation economically viable.
Some interesting statistics are as follows:

  • Number of panels installed: 2628
  • Area covered: 5010 m2
  • Max generation capacity: 815kw
  • Environmental saving: 1224 tonnes CO2 per year – 9774 trees have to be planted for the same amount of CO2
  • Energy consumption reduction: 20%

It should be noted that this installation is not a solution for load shedding but rather to provide a sustainable alternative energy. When there is a power outage, the emergency circuit is powered by back-up diesel generators – however the limited input from the solar system does reduce the usage of diesel.


 


Update on Constantia Nek Restaurant

We have noticed some fairly mixed reporting around what is happening at the Constantia Nek restaurant property.
As is usual for buildings over 60 years old (the original building dates back to the 1930’s), the owners were required to obtain a permit from Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for alterations and additions. They appointed a specialist heritage practitioner and the application was submitted to HWC in September 2015.
The Harbour House Group were anxious to open the remodelled restaurant by mid-December 2015, and unfortunately commenced with alterations before a permit for the work had been issued by HWC. Following a complaint, an inspection was carried out on 15 October 2015 by HWC and a Stop Works Order was issued.
On 21 October the permit application was considered by HWC 2015 and they resolved to undertake a site inspection in order to clarify the nature and extent of unauthorised work and its impact on heritage significance. The Committee requested a ‘Heritage Recovery Report’ to be arranged by the owners summarizing the unauthorised work and assessing its impact on heritage significance.
The matter was tabled again at a HWC meeting on 11 November where it was resolved that the building be given a IIIA heritage grading (i.e. local, not Provincial or National) in terms of its landmark qualities and architectural, aesthetic, historical and social significance. The building is a rare and intact example of a “tearoom” typology with distinctive Arts and Crafts Features.
On 17 November 2015, a meeting of the owners, the project team and officials of HWC was held to discuss the way forward. The owners acknowledged that they had transgressed but were keen to put forward proposals to recover any lost heritage significance.
All of this resulted in the owners making several design changes and HWC resolved to approve the proposals in principle subject to certain conditions.

Harbour House estimate to be completed with construction around the end of May.

Important Amendments to the Municipal Planning By-laws

The invitation from the City to comment on the proposed amendments to the Municipal Planning By-laws was brought to the CRRA’s attention only on 9 December with the closing date being one week later – we objected and the period was extended to 15 January. The main sections we commented on were as follows:
Filming
The proposed amendments would mean that filming would become an ‘additional use right’ so that filming activities could take place at single residential properties without the need for the City’s approval – hence no conditions to ensure that the character of neighbourhoods are not detracted from. Filming is permitted 5 days per month for 13 hours a day at the same property which is obviously inconvenient to neighbours especially if more than one shoot in the same street is happening – which does occur. The CRRA is not totally opposed to filming as it is obviously an income generator for the region, however, it does need to be more effectively controlled by the authorities.
Third dwellings
The proposed amendments to allow 3rd dwellings in certain circumstances are obviously in alignment with the City’s blanket policy in support of densification. The CRRA are opposed to this as it flies in the face of the concept of Single Residential Zoning. Taken to the extreme, a situation could arise where three families could be living on one property operating (say) a bed & breakfast, a child home care centre and a film studio. The very essence of single residential neighbourhoods will be destroyed as a result of such short sighted planning that will have far-reaching long term negative consequences.
Mayoral powers
The proposed amendments will allow for excessive powers to be given to the Mayor. The proposed right for the Mayor to dissolve the appeal panel at any stage is of particular concern as this empowers the Mayor to function in an autocratic manner and will negate the power of the Municipal Council. Giving the Mayor the right to unilaterally ‘hire and fire’ an appeal panel could result in a toothless appeal panel of ‘head nodders’.

Action Plan to deal with ‘Street People’ Issue

In response to many calls for the authorities to address the ‘Street People’ issue, a meeting was arranged to establish a Ward 62 Local Network of Care (LNOC). Stakeholders who were invited to attend included Non Profit Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Faith Based Organisations, Community Based Organisations and people who work with and assist street people within Ward 62 and any other residents who wish to become involved.
The City gave the following background statement:
‘The City of Cape Town’s aim is to establish a Local Network of Care (LNOC) in communities that will take ownership of the street people challenges in their respective communities.
The objective of the LNOC is twofold; to assist the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate with the reunification of street people back into their community of origin, and to prevent people from living on the street or open spaces.
The LNOC constitution and the Street People Policy will guide the committee about their roles, and the committee will meet monthly to discuss the needs of street people in their community and develop a plan of action.
Social Development and Early Childhood Development will provide on-going mentoring and support to develop the effectiveness of this forum’.
About 20 people attended the meeting including a few independent residents and a follow up workshop was held – apparently this was not terribly productive. In order to improve communications between City officials and the LNOC, a senior City manager has been appointed to chair future workshops.
Membership of the LNOC is open to anybody with an interest in social upliftment and community development. You can contact:
Ms Ntombevangeli Matshayana
Tel:         021 417 0508
Email:     Ntombevangeli.Matshayana@capetown.gov.za

The City’s Street People Policy is available at:
https://www.capetown.gov.za/en/socialdevelop/Documents/Policy_Street_People_Policy_number_12398B.pdf



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