Report from the Executive Committee
This newsletter brings residents up to date on many of the issues facing Constantia that have been dealt with in the past few months.
By far the most important of these is the proposal by the City of Cape Town that all current zoning schemes be scrapped and that one single zoning scheme be applied across the whole City.
The City’s proposals are a real threat to the quality of our residential areas, and to the unique character of the Valley. The importance of resisting the imposition of these new proposals cannot be stressed enough. When you read the article below, we are sure you can measure the impact on Constantia of treating planning here in the same way as a high density area like the City Bowl.
The new zoning proposals do however make allowance for ‘overlay zones’ that can vary the common, underlying development regulations.
It is our contention, given the unique qualities of Constantia, our historic and cultural landscapes and beautiful mountain setting, that we should apply for an overlay zone.
However, this has to be done by a professional planning Consultant which is expensive. An initial quotation we have received is R175 000 plus the requirements for public consultation, which could bring the total cost to about R200 000. We will obviously continue to look for ways in which this cost can be reduced.
We may therefore soon be approaching all the residents in Constantia, not only our loyal members, for financial assistance. Our subscription income does not cover the cost of an extraordinary expense such as this. Should we be successful in obtaining an overlay zone for Constantia, it will be to the benefit of all of us who live here.
We will keep you informed about progress and would welcome assistance from members willing to undertake fundraising on behalf of the CPOA.
Members of the Executive Committee are: Alec Pienaar, Gary May, Anthony Coombe, Joan Heming, Judy Mare, John Muir, Jean Naude, Brian Ratcliffe, Michael Ridsdale, Shabodien Roomanay and Roy Thompson.
CPOA JOINS OTHER RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATIONS IN OBJECTING TO THE CITY’S PROPOSED NEW INTEGRATED ZONING SCHEME (IZS)
The Constantia Property Owners’ Association is one of 50 residents’ associations across the City that has raised concerns and objections to the proposed introduction of a ‘one size fits all’ zoning scheme. This scheme will impact adversely on the Constantia Valley and other areas that have a unique, distinctive, historic character.
The City’s proposal is to introduce a new IZS that applies the same development regulations applied to all conventional residential areas in the City.
We were signatories to a joint letter signed by members of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance and we also submitted our own letter to the City’s planning department setting out our particular concerns about the impact uniform regulations would have on the character of Constantia and its future sustainability.
The primary function of the CPOA is to seek to preserve that which makes the Constantia Valley a unique asset to the City, the Western Cape and to the whole of South Africa. This is why we have raised serious concerns about the irreversible changes the City’s ‘one size fits all’ IZS would bring to the Valley.
In compiling objections on behalf of members, the CPOA Executive Committee has taken into account the important role of Constantia for tourism and the provision of quality living.
We have asked for a local area overlay zone, which would give special consideration to heritage, cultural landscape, environmental and other elements that give rise to the quality of Constantia.
We believe that areas with heritage credentials, like Constantia, need a different approach from the planning objectives applicable to high density or new housing developments. Great care should be taken, and planning should be conservative, in order to protect what is of irreplaceable value. Constantia should be considered by the City as a valuable asset. The contribution it makes to the international reputation and attractiveness of Cape Town as a preferred travel destination is important to the city as a whole. Its quality living environment attracts skilled people who have the means to make a contribution to the success of Cape Town.
Development should therefore be regulated in a manner that preserves the features that give it a unique character.
Development rules that would adversely affect Constantia
Because Constantia clearly falls into a high quality, low density residential category, we believe that appropriate development regulations should be applied. The City’s new zoning proposals however only allow for two categories of single residential area zoning –
conventional single residential’ and ‘incremental housing’ – the latter being informal settlements.
- The proposed development rules that would be applicable to all conventional single residential areas in all residential areas of the City would allow a house to be:
- 9m in height plus a roof, which could contain three storeys whereas Constantia has currently a maximum height of two storeys.
- plus a roof means that a three-storeyed house with 50% coverage on a mountain-side erf of 4 000m² or larger will be unregulated. The City would have no control over a developer who wishes to build a 6 000m² house on a 4 000m² erf with a second dwelling, garages and staff accommodation in an area close to the urban edge or to the Table Mountain National Park, or, with even more adverse impact, a 12 000m² house on an 8 000m² erf right at the interface with the urban edge and National Park.
- The CPOA believes that a grading of coverage and height should be introduced to avoid adverse impacts on mountainsides.
- We have also urged that ‘coverage’ should be replaced by ‘bulk’ as it is not the footprint on the ground that is at issue in low density areas but the total floor space of a building in its setting and its environment.
- We have also requested a sliding scale of ‘bulk’ which should be related to the size of the plot so that unacceptable developments can be avoided on mountain slopes, ridges, scenic drives, public open spaces as well as protected natural environments.
- Objections have also been raised to the new zoning scheme regulations which would relax building lines to 3m from a road and 1,5m from a common boundary, as well as to a proposal that garages can be built 1,5m from a street boundary.
Proposed additional primary use rights
- A range of primary use rights is proposed for conventional housing. (Primary use rights mean that no application has to be made to the Council and neighbours do not have to be consulted). These include the main dwelling, a second dwelling (a maximum 120m²), bed and breakfast establishments (a maximum three rooms or 6 guests) or home occupation (40m² or 25% of the house whichever is the smaller), accommodation for lodgers or home school.
- Consent uses, those for which application has to be made and neighbours informed, are proposed for places of instruction and worship, and for institutions (a welfare or social facility such as home for the aged or handicapped, counselling centre or reformatory), house shop, guest house (that exceeds the parameters for a bed and breakfast establishment and allows business meetings and training sessions) and roof top base station (cell mast).
Unacceptable general aspect of the proposals
- There is no mention of whether land owned by Provincial or National Government will be subject to any development control and minimum erf size sub-divisions.
- In effect the proposed new Zoning Scheme is designed to create increased densification, yet there are no appropriate traffic management or transport plans to support the changes.
- Neither are there any considerations as to whether the existing infrastructure of underground services could cope with densification in respect of water, sewerage, stormwater and electricity. This could have severe implications for Constantia as our underground services were installed in about 1960 and designed for one house on each erf contained in the zoning scheme. Second dwellings and other additional pressure on the services were not catered for and there is great reservation about whether the existing services could cope. There are no assessments of what additional or upgraded services will be needed or how they will be budgeted for.
The proposals are legally flawed
As members of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance, using shared costs, we have had the benefit of Senior Counsel and other legal opinion. It would appear that the City’s proposals are legally flawed on many important points.
- The proposals for a ‘one size fits all’ scheme are not in accord with fundamental rights protected in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution in that they would negatively affect property rights and rights to privacy and a healthy environment.
- They are in conflict with some of the fundamental principles in the National Environment Management Act, which requires a strategic environmental assessment to measure the impact on people, their physical, psychological, developmental, cultural and social interests, before embarking on such large scale land use changes.
- This Act also requires the City to take into account the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of decisions and actions – which the City has failed to do. Neither has it done an assessment of likely negative impacts on the environment – especially sensitive, vulnerable, highly dynamic or stressed ecosystems
- The National Heritage Resources Act has not been complied with in that the City has not fulfilled its statutory duty to establish heritage areas. This Act gives municipalities a statutory duty to identify, protect and manage conservation-worthy places and buildings before adopting any new land use plans.
- There is lack of clarity under which existing law the City proposes to implement this IZS. Legal opinion says that it cannot be done as a By-Law as is proposed by the City.
Copies of our letter of objection are available
In the space available in this Newsletter it is only possible to give a brief summary of our concerns. If any member would like to view our letter of objection to the proposed IZS, please visit our website at www.novadesign.co.za/cpoa
HERITAGE DAY CELEBRATIONS PLANNED IN CONSTANTIA
It is heartening to note that the National and Provincial Governments appear to be paying more attention to the protection of our national heritage resources and that their management structures and processes relating to heritage are being strengthened and enhanced.
However, in carrying out their legal duty in respect of heritage, the local authority appears to be overwhelmed by other issues and projects. The result is that many historic buildings and sites are being lost or seriously endangered.
This creates a huge need for the public to become better informed and more actively involved in protecting these irreplaceable assets.
The CPOA Heritage Committee is therefore planning a series of activities leading up to Heritage Day on 24 September. The aim is to create interesting and fun ways for the community to become involved in learning about and enjoying the wonderful heritage and cultural history of the Constantia Valley
As soon as planning is finalised, details will be advertised in local newspapers and on our website. At this stage, proposed activities include a Saturday morning seminar at Groot Constantia on 17 September. This will consist of short presentations on varied topics related to the history of Constantia. This will also include a mid-morning tea and wine tasting. An entrance fee of R30 for members of the CPOA and R40 for non-members will be charged.
Among the topics to be covered will be:
- early history of the Valley
- cultural landscape
- kramats and minarets
- memories of Strawberry Lane
- the Cloete family’s 225 years in the Valley
- land use planning history
- greenbelts and riverine open spaces
There has been great interest shown in this morning seminar, so members are urged to book early by contacting the CPOA Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel/fax 794-4388.
Other activities will include guided walks on selected greenbelts on Saturday and Sunday mornings during which members of the Friends of the Constantia Valley Greenbelts will point out important historic and natural features. This understanding of the unique nature of our greenbelts will add to your enjoyment when you go for walks in the future.
The hall at the Alphen Centre will be 100 years old this year and will be included in the activities. To make the past come alive, the Heritage Committee is hoping to arrange a photographic exhibition to coincide with a vintage transport rally. This exhibition will be held at Constantia Village from 17 – 25 September and the organizers request residents to lend them photographs of Constantia, past and present, which would illustrate changes that have taken place.
Written information or memories for possible use as extensions to labels are also requested. These to please be handed in for selection by 23 August to Pikkie’s kiosk (outside Constantia Pick ‘n Pay) where exhibition entry forms will be available. Photographs will of course be returned after the event. For further information contact: Jean Raubenheimer 794-5772, Lee Leith 794-5737 or Robbi Scott 794-6579.
Constantia is a rare and special part of the City of Cape Town but what makes it special can be saved only if the residents of Constantia become involved by taking a stand against poor planning decisions and helping the protection of our heritage and cultural landscapes.
OLD SILLERY AND DIE OU VOOR
Since the proposed sub-division in December 2002 of this focal point in Constantia, on the corner of Ladies Mile and Constantia Main Road, much controversy and concern has arisen over historic, cultural and environmental issues. As reported in a previous Newsletter, the CPOA has objected to the proposals for development of this property.
Heritage Western Cape, a department of the Provincial Government, and the Groot Constantia Museum, part of Isiko, the national network of museums, have called for more sensitive development proposals.
One of the issues of great concern is the need to restore the historic ‘Ou Voor’ – an irrigation furrow that was dug in 1790. This has links to slavery, early Muslim communities and tenant farmers in Constantia.
It is not only residents who are calling for the restoration of the Ou Voor, part of which was buried by a previous owner of Sillery. Two grade 12 pupils from Wynberg Girls’ School, Shelly Mason and Lauren Scheepers, recently did a school project on its history and cultural importance. They were commended in the marking of their project for originality and initiative. Among the people Shelly and Lauren interviewed for their project were Ismail Ali, the Imam of the Mosque in Spaanschemat River Road, whose grandfather owned farms in the Valley prior to the enforcement of the Group Areas Act in 1950. The Imam has fond memories of his childhood in Constantia and says “much of our Malay history starts in Constantia”
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning of the Western Cape Government has just issued a Record of Decision regarding the Old Sillery Nursery site. The decision is against the objections which the CPOA and surrounding residents submitted. There is an appeal process and the CPOA and no doubt surrounding residents will be appealing the decision. Further information may be obtained from our Secretary.
CONSTANTIA VALLEY TRUST
At the last Annual General Meeting of the CPOA, a question was asked about the Constantia Valley Trust and an undertaking was given that a report would be provided.
The Constantia Valley Trust was set up in 1998 by Neil McCarthy, a previous and long-serving Chairperson of the CPOA. Its purpose is to hold in trust donations and then disburse income and capital for the purpose of maintaining the uniqueness of the Constantia Valley. The objective of the Trust is to co-ordinate a uniform conservation policy and plan of action that will foster the rural character, both farmlands and residential areas, the numerous greenbelts and public open spaces and to promote land use planning policies and practices which are compatible with the unique character of the Constantia Valley.
The Trust also consults with, offers assistance to, provides information for and makes recommendations to competent authorities and other relevant bodies in the drafting, promulgation, amendment and enforcement of laws and regulations pertaining to planning in the Valley.
The Trust was set up in recognition that the local authority might have priorities that take precedence over the concerns that it has for the Valley.
The CPOA has received the financial statements for the year ended 29 February 2004 which show that subscriptions amounting to R89 976 were received in that year. The major expenses were R31 888 for payment towards a Structure Plan for Constantia-Tokai, R2 500 for a report on the proposal to develop Sillery farm and R1 000 for other expenses. This resulted in a surplus of some R56 000 being carried forward for further projects in the 2005 year. The financial statements for 2005 are in the course of preparation and further information will be made available to members in our next Newsletter.
The Trustees of the Constantia Valley Trust are: Neil McCarthy (Chairperson), Tony Hardy, Maurice Norman, Alec Pienaar and Joan Heming
As indicated in our last newsletter our website went live for the first time in April. Its address is www.novadesign.co.za/cpoa
The content includes:
- Our vision for the Constantia Valley
- A noticeboard for breaking news
- Our latest quarterly Newsletter
- Contact details of members of Exco, Land Use, Environment, Heritage and Membership Committees
- Our Constitution and By-Laws
- Benefits of membership of the CPOA
- A map showing our area of mandate
- A membership form which can be completed on-line.
We have recently been in touch with other bodies with interests in the Constantia Valley and are in the process of introducing linkages for our website to theirs and vice versa. We do hope that our website and linkages will keep members better informed about what is going on in our beautiful Constantia Valley.
In preparation for the upcoming local government elections, the Demarcation Board has changed the ward boundaries. The final draft has now been gazetted. How this affects Ward 62, into which Constantia falls, is as follows:
The Constantia Academy voting station has been removed and will now fall into Ward 71 with Tokai, Kirstenhof and part of Bergvliet. This is largely the Constantia Hills area.
The whole of Wynberg East (below the railway line) has been cut off and placed in Ward 63.
The Stone Cottages voting station (Kirstenbosch) has been added, so the whole of Bishopscourt and Fernwood will now fall into Ward 62.
Also a big part of Plumstead will now form part of Ward 62.
If you wish to see further details, maps are available on the website at www.demarcation.org.za
SPAANSCHEMAT RIVER ROAD TRAFFIC ASSESSMENT.
As members will know, the traffic volumes on Spaanschemat River Road have risen to the point of congestion. In order to ease the situation, that will be aggravated by new developments in the Strawberry Lane and Willow Road areas, a traffic study was undertaken.
As part of this assessment a public meeting was held on 13 April 2005, which over 60 people attended. A situation analysis was presented by the traffic consultants appointed to do the study.
Following the meeting, at which much comment and ideas were discussed, residents also sent in letters and telephoned the consultants with suggestions and concerns.
The consultants are now working on detailed proposals to ease the traffic situation for people who use the road or take access off it. The proposals will include a variety of projects that can be undertaken individually over a period of time.
Another public meeting is planned to be held towards the end of July. Members and the public will be notified when there is a fixed date.
This project was co-ordinated by the CPOA and funded by the Constantia Valley Trust.
We would like to acknowledge the wonderful support of our advertisers for sponsoring this Newsletter.