Newletter July 2009

CONTENTS

Constantia Zoning Scheme to change 

What will Cape Town look like in the future? 

Heritage and development issues in Constantia 

The trouble with taxis in Constantia 

Special Rating Areas 

City prepares for next general valuation of all properties 

City seeks court order to prevent billboard abuse 

New project to fight environmental decline 

CPOA applies for Registration as a Conservation Body 

Heritage South Africa Jubilee Symposium 

Apology to Africlinics 

City implements SMS service for electricity fault reporting 

CPOA needs a new treasurer 

 

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Constantia Zoning Scheme to change 
With the introduction of a new City of Cape Town zoning scheme that will apply across the whole metropolitan area, the current regulations for single residential properties in Constantia will change. This new zoning scheme, which is still in draft, will come into operation either towards the end of this year or early next year. The CPOA has received a copy of the new proposed regulations and will respond to the City officials when the final document is released for public participation. We are also working closely with the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance – a grouping of some 150 residents’ associations across the City – as well as those in the Constantia Valley.

While the CPOA welcomes the inclusion in the new draft zoning scheme of the retention of the minimum erf sizes that are allowed in the valley, there are some aspects to which we will object quite strongly. Our response to the proposals will be done in terms of the Constitution of the CPOA, which mandates our Executive to protect the interests of property owners and the unique, rural character of the area. It is important to note that zoning scheme regulations give property owners real rights to what can be done on that property.

Among our concerns is the proposal for only two single residential zones – one for ‘conventional housing’ (SR1) and one for ‘incremental housing’ (SR2). This means that the regulations are ‘one-size-fits-all’ for every single residential property in this zone – be it in Constantia or the City Bowl, Bishopscourt or Belhar. We believe that different areas need different development controls in order to maintain the diversity of the City and its areas with unique character.

Among the proposals which could have a direct effect on the character of Constantia are:

    1. SR1 properties will have primary use rights, for which no planning permission is required, additional use rights, which will still need Council approval and consent uses which are at the discretion of the Council.
    2. Primary use rights on single residential properties will be restricted to a dwelling house. Additional use rights which the City proposes are: a home occupation, a bed and breakfast, a second dwelling or child home care.
    3. Consent uses could be places of worship, an institution, guest house, roof top telecommunications installations, a base station, open space and urban agriculture. In all these uses there will still be public participation so the CPOA or any member of the public can object if they believe an application is inappropriate.
    4. . Our main concerns about the new draft zoning scheme lie in the development rules that are proposed for maximum coverage, floor space, and height and building lines. The proposals which would apply to Constantia, where the minimum erf sizes range from 1350ms to 8000ms, are:
      Erf size
      >2000m1000m to
      2000m
      Coverage
      40%50%
      Floor space
      800m600m
      Height
      10.0m10.0m
      Street setbacks
      6.0m4.5m

 

  1. A very unwelcome proposed in the new draft, which is a change from previous drafts, is that the only limit on the size of a second dwelling is that it may not be larger than the primary dwelling, excluding ancillary buildings for staff accommodation, garages, etc. This is a major change and the CPOA will resist this being applied because it will densify the area beyond what the current infrastructure can cope with; it will change the character of the residential precincts of Constantia and will add to the traffic congestion currently experienced on our two main thoroughfares. It will have a particular negative impact on mountain slope properties in the Constantia Valley.
  2. Home occupations may not take up more than 25% of the total area of the dwelling units or 50ms, whichever is the lesser; B&B’s may only occupy three bedrooms on the land unit, with no more than six paying guests, no liquor may be sold and no self-catering units are allowed; for home care secondary use a maximum of 6 children may be accommodated. The owner or occupier of a property with a secondary use must live on the property which has to maintain its single residential character.
  3. Other issues of critical importance for the Constantia Valley is that all the wine farms, which are currently zoned rural will be converted to an agricultural zone and it is acknowledged that agricultural land should be generally protected from development and that sub-divisions should be avoided.
  4. Heritage areas in the Constantia Valley, which have been determined in a study done by Professor Fabio Todeschini – which was initiated and paid for by the CPOA – have been overlooked and the CPOA will try to ensure that this work, which has been accepted by both the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and Heritage Western Cape (HWC), is included in the new zoning scheme as an overlay zone, which will give it maximum protection from development inroads.
  5. None of the City’s designated Scenic Routes that run through Constantia have been included in the overlay zone designed to enhance and protect these, and we will try to have this remedied as well.

Any member who would like to assist the CPOA in its response to the proposals in this final draft of the City’s Zoning Scheme regulations could contact the manager, Alan Dolby.

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What will Cape Town look like in the future? 

The City of Cape Town planners are in the final stretch of a very ambitious project to plan the future spatial development of Cape Town and the eight districts it encompasses. At the metropolitan level a Spatial Development Framework will set the parameters and guidelines for a composite plan for the future growth and development of Cape Town. This will be available to the public during August and September and anyone interested in this can access the plan by email on futurecapetown@capetown.gov.za or www.capetown,gov.za/planning capetown. The primary aspects taken into account in this overarching spatial plan, which will guide the future development of the City as a whole are: population growth trends, where urban development should and should not take place; where new development should happen and in what form; a focus on existing urban areas to make them work better and environmental management zones, which include heritage as a layer. These will provide guidelines and considerations for land use decision-making.

At a more local level, eight District Structure Plans (DSPs) are in the process of being finalized so that they can go out for public participation. The CPOA will be very involved in this process for the area into which Constantia falls -District H. The spatial planners in the City have not started from scratch but have taken into account all the previous planning documents and policies that have been developed for each area and amalgamated them into these DSPs. The Constantia-Tokai Structure Plan and the Constantia Triangle Structure Plan have been used as a basis in our area.

A very innovative and welcome aspect of these DSPs is the inclusion of Environmental Impact Management plans (EIMs) for each district. These will provide indications of what are suitable or not suitable for land uses. Areas in districts will be graded on a scale from ‘desirable’ to ‘undesirables’ and this will guide planners, developers and politicians who make the final land use decisions.

There will be notifications in all newspapers of the commencement of the public participation process of these district structure plans.

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Heritage and development issues in Constantia 

Sillery: After year and years of trying to get the historic furrow that runs through Sillery, which was buried by a previous owner, uncovered and protected from the development, Heritage Western Cape finally supported the CPOA, and decided that it should be uncovered, that a 5m servitude be registered over it and that the public should have limited access to it over the week-end. However the developers have now appealed this decision to the Provincial Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEAD&P). Together with Dr Stephen Townsend, who has been our Consultant on this issue, we have met with the officials at DEAD&P and will be submitting a letter motivating why we believe the decision by HWC should be upheld and the developer’s appeal dismissed.

Firgrove and Soetvlei school sites: As members know, these two sites were proposed by the previous Provincial Government as sites for low cost housing. Just days before the last elections, they were transferred to the National Government’s new Housing Development Agency (HDA) together with other properties in Constantia – the Porter Estate and the school site in Brommersvlei Road currently used by Riding for the Disabled. The new Provincial Government is disputing this and they are refusing to hand over the title deeds. As transfer of the land cannot proceed without these, the whole sorry affair is in abeyance. A meeting is being sought by Province with the National Minister of Human Settlements, Minister Tokyo Sexwale and the Chief Executive of the HDA in an attempt to resolve the issue, failing which the Western Cape Provincial Government says it will take legal steps. In the mean time, the working group of local residents’ associations that was set up to deal with the original proposals, are working towards suitable land uses for these two school sites. This is being done in the full realisation that they cannot remain unoccupied or unused forever and that the most suitable uses should be fed into the new District Structure Plan that will encompass the Constantia Valley. (See article on SDPs above).

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The trouble with taxis in Constantia 

There have been very disturbing fracas between two rival taxis groups in Constantia. The Retreat and Wynberg taxis have fought each other over the Spaanschemat/Orpen Road route. This burst into open warfare early in June with shots being fired, passengers being hauled out of rival taxis and police intervention needed to quell the disturbances on Spaanschemat River Road near the circle at the top of Tokai Rd. Meetings have since been held between the rivals and the City officials and all is quiet at the moment – and we hope it stays that way because it is the taxi passengers who bear the brunt of these disturbances.

Another major cause for concern, which has been taken up time and time again by the CPOA with the Ward Councillors, is the illegal stacking of taxis at the corner of Klein Constantia Rd and Spaanschemat River Road; on Southern Cross Drive at the corner of Parish Road; on the pavement at the garden refuse depot on Ladies Mile; outside the Baptist Church on Ladies Mile and the double parking on Constantia Main Road opposite Constantia Village. Councillor Ross, Councillor for Ward 62, has said that more people have been employed to monitor taxis and they will see to it that this illegal stacking stops.

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Special Rating Areas 

The Council has recently promulgated a by-law to allow for the establishment of Special Rating Areas (SRAs). This by-law allows communities to ask the Council to render an additional levy which the communities themselves can then spend on the enhancement of selected municipal services.

In order to establish a SRA, a fairly complex and drawn out process needs to be followed which involves the agreement by more that 50% of property owners and comprising more than 50% of the property values in a defined area to establish a SRA. A business plan and a budget must be approved by the owners as well as by the Council, detailing what municipal services would be enhanced. These services could typically include additional crime prevention, cleansing, maintenance of infrastructure, upgrading of the environment, social services to deal with vagrancy, etc.

If the SRA was approved, the Council would also approve a levy calculated to meet the budget and all property owners in the area concerned would be levied for their share of this special rate whether they were in favour of the establishment of the SRA or not. The SRA levy is calculated on a cents-in-the-rand of each property valuation that will cover the required SRA budget. The higher an individual’s property value, the higher the levy becomes that is payable by the property owner.

The SRA by-law replaces the former City Improvement Districts By-law the latter of which was primarily created to allow business areas to enhance the safety and cleanliness of such areas. Business areas have readily embraced this concept but there has not been the same enthusiasm shown in residential areas and past attempts by large residential communities to establish CIDs have generally failed.

There seems to be some interest in the Constantia Valley to fund the function of crime prevention provided by local crime watch groups. However, a SRA would not be approved to solely fund crime prevention measures and a reasonable spread of enhanced municipal services would have to be included in the business plan and the budget of a proposed SRA.

While property owners may be willing to pay an additional levy for enhanced crime prevention there may be some resistance to pay an additional levy for the enhancement of traditional municipal services when one considers the high municipal rates paid by Constantia property owners and the perceived poor municipal services and facilities provided in this area.

In the event of an initiative to establish a SRA in Constantia, enhanced functions should perhaps be confined to crime prevention, green belt preservation, heritage protection, and land use and development control.

At present certain expenses of the Constantia ratepayer bodies, the green belt group and a heritage association are paid for by property owners as voluntary contributions. There could also be some resistance to the funding of these bodies by way of a compulsory municipal levy.

The CPOA will keep an open mind on the establishment of a SRA in the Constantia Valley but will insist that any decision in this regard is widely canvassed and that there is enthusiastic support by property owners for the concept and particularly for the functions identified in any proposed SRA’s business plan.

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City prepares for next general valuation of all properties 

The City of Cape Town is preparing for the next general valuation of all properties in the metropolitan area. The proposed date of the new valuation is 01 July 2009. This means that the valuation must reflect the market value of properties as at that date. Market value is defined as the amount the property would have realised if sold on the date of valuation, in the open market, by a willing seller to a willing buyer. This general valuation will be implemented on 01 July 2010.

As in the previous general valuation, this one will make use of Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal technology. The City maintains that this is a more cost efficient and resourceful approach to valuations, making it possible to carry out mass property valuations in a short period of time.

Most of the data required for this approach is already available on the City’s property database. Selected properties will be revisited and data collected. In the case of commercial and industrial properties, obtaining market value data is somewhat problematic. Accordingly, the City has mailed questionnaires to approximately 17 000 commercial and industrial property owners.

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City seeks court order to prevent billboard abuse 

The City of Cape Town has applied to the Cape High Court for an order compelling a leading signage company, Independent Outdoor Media, to remove, at its own cost, nine billboards erected on buildings in contravention of the Municipality’s Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-Law. The City has, in addition, cited the owners of the buildings on which the billboards have been erected as respondents in the application, and requested the Court to grant the same removal order against them.

These mobile billboards have been popping up on road reserve and public open space in the Constantia Valley and create a degradation of the aesthetics of our environment. The advertisements on the billboards promote liquor, fast food outlets, and financial institutions, and in one instance, even the signage company itself. The billboards are substantial, as much as 54 square metres in area and others up to twelve metres long.

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New project to fight environmental decline 

New project to fight environmental decline Civil society organizations alarmed at the rate of environmental degradation in South Africa have banded together to establish a Centre for Environmental Rights.

The project led by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (Wessa), is a response to what the organization says is increasing unsustainable use of natural resources. Further, it is a response to the limited capacity to enforce environmental legislation, particularly at a provincial and local level.

The Centre for Environmental Rights, which will be registered as a Section 21 company, will provide the following four programs:

  • Exercising environmental rights and will help NGOs with legal advice, negotiation and dispute resolution, and with reporting individuals that break environmental laws.
  • Public participation in licensing processes and will provide an idiot’s guide to environmental regulations.
  • Providing environmental law information and a central database of legal resources that already exist.
  • Providing training and build capacity in NGOs through an internment program. The proposed centre has been given seed capital by the Table Mountain Fund, but is looking for sustainable funding of about R3 million per year.

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CPOA applies for Registration as a Conservation Body 

The Constantia Property Owners’ Association has made application in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, for registration as a conservation body.

Our association has always kept a close watch on land use applications and proposed development initiatives in Constantia and has submitted comment and objections where it has believed that the preservation of the beauty, rural character and historic heritage of Constantia could in any way be threatened. Moreover, the CPOA, in consultation with the City of Cape Town, Heritage Western Cape and the SA Heritage Resources Agency engaged consultants (Fabio Todeschini and Jean Blanckenberg) to research and compile an inventory of tangible heritage resources in the Constantia-Tokai Valley: towards a conservation management plan for this portion of the Cape winelands cultural landscape.

Registration as a conservation body would, we believe, give our association a formal standing with the environmental authorities and would provide a symbiotic basis for cooperation and consultation with the authorities on heritage issues in Constantia.

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Heritage South Africa Jubilee Symposium 

This symposium is being hosted by the Simon van der Stel Foundation, on behalf of Heritage South Africa on 25th and 26th September 2009. The symposium will be focused on Constantia as this was part of Governor Simon van der Stel’s estate and it is the 50th since the Foundation was established.

There will be two keynote speakers of international renown, a variety of heritage subjects and two afternoons of interesting tours by bus

If you would like to receive a copy of the program and a booking form, please contact Pat Benbow-Hebbert, telephone 021-7947464 or email pbhebbert@mweb.co.za

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Apology to Africlinics 

In our March newsletter we reported that the privatizing of the clinic at the Alphen centre was “a failed experiment” and that “many patients were lost during the privatized time”. This criticism is unfounded and was based on wrong information. In fact, the Council has confirmed that this public/private partnership was terminated on financial considerations only and was not based on poor service delivery on the part of the partnership. Statistics indicate that attendances at the clinic had improved over the 18 month period of the partnership. Further, Africlinics received the Gold Award for TB cure rate during its management period.

CPOA apologizes to Africlinic for any offence, embarrassment or damage to their good name that may have been caused.

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City implements SMS service for electricity fault reporting 

A quick, easy, efficient and inexpensive SMS system of reporting electricity faults in house supply, street lights, pre-paid meters and cable theft has been introduced by the City Council.

By sending an SMS of no more than 160 characters to the number 31220, residents can report electricity faults or ask questions without having to go through the call centre, which will save time, reduce call centre congestion, and eliminate the “queuing time” while you are put on hold and often have to wait for your call to be answered.

The SMS must contain the customer’s name, erf number and/or account number/prepaid meter number, street address and a brief description of the fault. The City’s Technical Operations Centre officials will then log the complaint for remedial action and provide the sender with a reference number.

The City has kept the cost of this service as low as possible, charging only 85 cents per 160 character SMS. If further information is required, call centre staff will phone the sender.

The Electricity Services Technical Operations Centre hotline 0800 022 0440 and the emails, FaultReporting.Centre@capetown.gov.za or frc@capetown.gov.za will continue to be provided.

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CPOA needs a new treasurer 

Our treasure for the past number of years will be leaving us at the end of this financial year (30 September) and we thank him most sincerely for his sterling work.

If any CPOA member who has a suitable financial background is willing to serve on our Executive as treasurer, please contact our manager, Alan Dolby (021-794 4388) for detail of the duties involved – it is not onerous, Alan does all the ‘donkey’ work!

We would like to acknowledge the wonderful support of our advertisers for sponsoring this newsletter and ask that you in turn support them.

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