Good evening members and guests.
2016 has been a year of change for the Association starting with the name change to the CRRA as ratified at the 2015 AGM with subsequent re-branding and public relations exercises. Two ExCo members of long standing, Yvonne Leibman and Anna Engelhardt, have decided to call it a day and the new contingent of ‘younger turks’ are breathing new life into the Association.
As you heard from our treasurer Robert Thorp, the Association is in a healthy financial position although it must be said that, going forward, it may be necessary to pay for outside expertise to advise on controversial land use and heritage cases and other matters.
Marketing and Communications
Our strategy to re-brand and re-energize the Association was outlined at the 2015 AGM and I am pleased to report that through the considerable effort of our marketing sub-committee, great strides have been made towards achieving these objectives:
- All branding associated with the name change has been done
- The website has been completely re-designed and is regularly updated with newsfeed from our Facebook page as well as other articles, events etc.
- The Facebook page has gained a lot of traction with daily updates on what is happening in the Constantia Valley and environs
- Membership drives at Constantia Village have proved very fruitful, not only for recruiting new members, but have also given us the opportunity to talk to residents
The net result has been a substantial increase in membership. The number of Facebook posts and ‘likes’ is testament to this renewed interest in the CRRA.
Land Use and Heritage
As usual our Land Use sub-committee have worked tirelessly to respond to the many (more than 50) applications that we, as a Ratepayers’ Association, are requested to comment on.
There have been several high profile cases this year.
- The Glendirk Farm High Court Application was drawn to a conclusion when the City and owners withdrew their opposition and tendered to pay costs. This was a very important case, not only for the conservation of the historic farms in the Constantia-Tokai Valley, but also to demonstrate that the CRRA is willing to challenge decisions taken by the City which are irrational and not in keeping with planning policies, heritage considerations and, most importantly, the desires of ratepayers and the general public.
- We listened to members comments on the proposed Ladies Mile retail centre through our social media platforms – this informed our final submission to Council which has been well publicised. It is important to note that we have left the door open for further negotiations with the owners.
- There was a lot of interest in the proposed Mount Prospect retirement Estate and there was a healthy public participation process. As things stand, both HWC and City Heritage agree with the CRRA that such a high density development adjacent to Groot Constantia is fundamentally inappropriate.
- Our critical assessment of the proposed Schoenstatt retirement village resulted in modifications to the design which have now been approved.
It may appear that the CRRA are opposed to high density retirement villages but this is not the case at all – every development must be considered in light of the future vision of the Constantia valley informed by planning principles, cultural and natural heritage resources and at the same time recognizing the need for managed change in response to development pressures.
- The long running ‘Pot House’ case was finalized this year, the City approving it despite our appeal however with conditions which we insisted on.
- We assisted a group of neighbours in appealing the City decision to approve the Embassy Hill function venue – hopefully some of the recommendations will be approved by the Mayor who has the final say.
- We have been extensively consulted on heritage and planning at Constantia Uitsig and will continue to keep a close eye on developments there.
- In April Land Use sub-committee members had a meeting with Deputy Mayor Ald Ian Neilson to discuss differences in the City’s and our interpretation of planning instruments, also densification, enforcement, transparency and other matters. The outcome was the recognition of the need for a workshop with senior City planners where such issues can be debated and hopefully a common vision agreed.
Unfortunately Yvonne Leibman has decided to step down from the Land Use and Heritage sub-committees after many years of dedicated service for which we can all be very grateful – the Constantia Valley would look very different today had it not been for her invaluable contribution, Glendirk farm being only one example.
As a result we are looking for members preferably with legal/town planning background to join this important sub-committee.
- Brian Ratcliffe has continued to play an active role in green environmental issues and he has been the driving force behind the de Hel rehabilitation project which is now well under way with the access road upgraded and alien vegetation removed. He is also an ExCo member of the Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts who have approached us with a view to forming a stronger affiliation with the CRRA. We have many common interests and it would make sense to share resources and have a collective voice when dealing with authorities.
Constantia Village Servitude Agreement
- The CV sub-committee engages with Growthpoint to monitor compliance with the servitude agreement and address issues raised by residents. One such issue has been the temporary refrigeration containers that are set up in the eastern parking area to increase storage capacity during the December and Easter peak periods. Growthpoint have at last committed to a permanent solution which should be completed by December. We are also trying to persuade them to erect a fence on the Alphen Spar corner to address the ‘vagrant’ issue there.
Roads and Traffic
- Peter Stenslunde has relentlessly challenged the City on budget allocations, road maintenance priorities, traffic calming measures, road markings and signage etc. Although a reasonable working relationship has been established with the Southern district officials, their hands are tied and the standard response of ‘there is no budget’ is wearing thin-the intention is to escalate these discussions to Mayco member level. The general upgrade of roads from the old Divisional Council Standards has commenced with Firgrove Road and, through persistent pressure, traffic calming measures on Southern Cross Drive will be undertaken.
- The CRRA is fortunate in having George Louw, the vice Chairman of Constantia Valley Watch, also serving on our executive committee ensuring seamless co-operation between the two organizations. By the way he has arranged the security here tonight and parked outside are the 2 law enforcement vehicles which are thanks to generous private sponsorship.
Other Issues dealt with
- This year the number of complaints received regarding vagrants (or street people) has increased dramatically, squatter hot spots are well known. This prompted the calling for a public meeting with the objective of establishing a Ward 62 Local Network of Care involving local stakeholders such as NGO’s, Faith based organizations and interested residents. This continues to be a challenging matter with no simple solutions.
- The ever increasing demand for film shoots in Constantia has created a lot of disruption for property owners who are directly affected, particularly when certain locations are used frequently, virtually as film studios. The CRRA and individual members have had meetings at City Mayco level to address issues. The proposed new Filming By-Law was pro-actively challenged by the CRRA. Whilst it is recognized that the filming industry creates jobs and valuable revenue for Cape Town, the regulations and enforcement thereof leave a lot to be desired.
- After a lot of pushing by the project team, the City finally gave the green light to Link Africa in April 2016 for rolling out fibre in Constantia, some 9 months later than originally planned.
Gordon Chunnett has engaged with the City and Table Mountain National Parks regarding fire management in the area – one physical outcome has been the installation of additional fire hydrants along Rhodes Drive.
We have continued to pursue finding an alternative for the Ladies Mile garden waste drop-off site with the City – somewhere more convenient for residents in Constantia and surrounds.
The Chairman thanked his Executive Committee for their contributions and support during the past year.
THE FUTURE OF CONSTANTIA IS IN YOUR HANDS