CPOA under new Management

Alan Dolby, the CPOA manager for the past five and a half years, has retired. The position was advertised and we are pleased to announce that John Hesom has been appointed to the vacancy. John is a qualified Civil Engineer and also holds university qualifications in business studies, property development and marketing.He has an impressive career history as a civil engineer, project manager, property consultant and developer. In his early career he worked for the Johannesburg City Council as a roads and services engineer and has 20 years’ experience in property development.
John has a good understanding of municipal services as well as town planning processes, heritage and environmental issues. Working as development manager at Century City and as acting MD of the CC Property Owners’ Association has enabled him to appreciate property development from the perspective of both developers and existing property owners. John fully subscribes to the vision and the objectives of the CPOA and we believe he will actively promote the protection of the Constantia valley.

Recruitment of Association Membership

We need to continually endeavour to increase the association’s membership, not only for financial reasons but to strengthen our influence and our credibility as an interest group which is fully representative of the great majority of Constantia property owners.
In August, we will be undertaking a mail drop to all 3500 households in the Constantia valley. Obviously we do not need existing owners to respond to this invitation to join the association. We do, however, urge them to spread the word as to the importance of supporting the association and to invite prospective members, such as new neighbours.
We will also be looking into the utilization of the electronic social media, such as an interactive Blog, as means of communicating with members and potential members, particularly the younger generation of property owners.

Constantia-Tokai Equestrian Facilities under Threat

Your association has recently learnt that the following equestrian facilities are under pressure in regard to their continued use of the land on which they have operated for many years:
•South African Riding for the Disabled (SARDA),
•Swaanswyk Riders and Horse Owners’ Association (SHORA), and
•Lane Stables.
SARDA has been located in the Constantia Valley since its inception in 1973 and provides a service to special needs children from suburbs and townships in the broad area of Cape Town. Its setting in the beautiful rural environment of Constantia adds great value to the therapeutic benefits that horse riding provides to disabled riders.
The SARDA facilities in Constantia have been located on State owned land in Brommersvlei Road. The original intention of the development of governmental school facilities on this site has, apparently, not been seen by the State as a priority and the land has been made available for a recent land restitution award. Consequently SARDA’s continued use of this land is under a very real threat.
The SHORA in Zwaanswyk Road, Tokai has been barred from the use of the land that they have been using since the 1950’s as the owner wishes to develop 5 houses thereon. SHORA is disputing its right to continue to have the use of this land and your association is lending its support to this cause by asking Heritage Western Cape to protect the use of this land, which we believe has heritage significance and should rather remain as an equestrian facility.
It is understood that the use of the land in Brounger Road used by Lanes Stables is to be curtailed by the Waldorf School, who owns the land.
We are aware that representations are being made to the various levels of government for the identification of land in the Constantia-Tokai Valley as possible alternative locations for equestrian facilities.
Because of the charitable and welfare nature of the services provided by SARDA, your association is particularly concerned that every effort be made to find land that would ensure that SARDA can continue to provide its services in an area of rural beauty. It would be an added bonus if SHORA and Lanes Stables could at the same time be accommodated on a permanent basis. The sharing of resources could be a cost effective way to operate a joint equestrian facility.
The CPOA is committed to do whatever possible to assist in achieving the objectives outlined above.

Constantia Village Shopping Centre causes Noise Pollution

Residents in Spaanschemat River Road and Shiraz Close have expressed considerable dissatisfaction with certain operational conditions that prevail at the Constantia Village Shopping Centre. Of particular concern is a disturbance of residents by the noise of deliveries made by large trucks between 00h45 and 02h45 at night.
This practice is contrary to the servitude agreement which your association holds over the shopping centre and which prescribes conditions to prevent interference with the peace, tranquility and any rights of the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
Your association has called on the owners of the shopping centre to comply with the delivery periods specified in the servitude and agreement has been reached to discontinue these late night deliveries.
Other complaints include the receipt of recycling material and the compacting of waste after 18h00; noise from trolley retrieval and delivery trucks and waste removal vehicles traversing speed bumps; refrigeration plant noise and car alarm noise. These issues are all being dealt with by a sub-committee of your association and lasting solutions are being sought.
A busy shopping centre such as Constantia Village will always provide ongoing challenges that will cause concern to neighbouring residents and a good working relationship must be maintained with the owners of the shopping centre. The foresight of your association’s representatives who ensured that a servitude agreement was concluded in the late 1999’s is commended.

Rezoning Application for ‘Little Streams’ causes Concern

The property known as Little Streams in Klein Constantia Road was bequeathed to the YMCA in the 1970’s for use in accordance with the normal residential or accommodation activities of the YMCA.  It was, however, not the intent of the bequest that the property would be used in a manner that would “threaten the peaceful and attractive character of the area”.
Application has now been made by the YMCA for planning permission to use the property as a Place of Worship, a Place of Assembly and for a public restaurant.
The title deed condition A. (A) (3) of this property states: “The land shall be used for residential and agricultural purpose only and no store or place of business or industry whatsoever may be opened or conducted on the land without the written approval of the controlling Authority as defined in Act No. 21 of 1940.”
It is clear that the proposed use of Little Streams is contrary to the conditions of the bequest and the above mentioned title deed restriction. Moreover, your association has submitted objections to the Council against the rezoning applications for the proposed uses, as outlined below:
Use as a Place of Worship: The buildings on the premises are not purpose-built to provide adequate accommodation for a place of worship, other than for small prayer or religious study groups. Any large religious gatherings, wedding ceremonies and the like would therefore presumably have to take place in the gardens of Little Streams. Such outdoor usage would inevitably lead to a noise disturbance to neighbouring residents. Events held at Little Streams have in the past created and still create problems of this nature to neighbours and residents in the area.
Use as a Place of Assembly: Events, such as conferences, outdoor wedding receptions, concerts, jazz festivals, parties, fetes and other entertainment functions have caused and indeed continues to create disturbances, and this will without doubt continue and most probably increase if formal planning permission is granted.
Use as a Public Tea Room, Café or Restaurant: The location of this facility is in close proximity to neighbouring residences and will continue to create a nuisance to and cause objections by the owners of surrounding properties.
On-site parking requirements for the tea room, conferences and Place of Worship activities have been assessed at a total of 41 on-site parking bays. This is all very well, but past activities at Little Streams have shown that 41 on-site parking bays are totally inadequate and parking on Klein Constantia Road has been in excess of the parking that has been provided on-site. This is largely because the attendances at functions held in the past have not been limited to match the available on-site parking.
The application does not provide any spatial or environmental public benefits. It will have negative consequences for the surrounding area, the sense of place, and for residents. It is also not supported by planning policy and law impacting on the property. In your associations view, it would indeed be irresponsible for any planning authority to approve the application. The property owners in the vicinity of Little Streams are strongly opposed to this planning application and have submitted their individual objections to the Council.

Guidelines for Film Shoots in Constantia

The Constantia valley has become a popular film shoot location and, while appreciating that such activity is good for the local economy, this does on occasion, cause some disturbance to residents in the vicinity of a film shoot. Your association has recently met with the officials of the Council’s film office and has now received a Filming Guideline for Constantia and Constantia Hills. If any association members would like to have a copy of these guidelines, please let us know, preferably by email.
Film shoots that take place occasionally are generally tolerated by residents in the vicinity but there are some locations that are frequently and repeatedly used and this causes unacceptable inconvenience to neighbouring residents. Dwellings that are constantly made available for film shoots, virtually as a business, are required to obtain planning permission, normally in the form of a temporary departure. Affected neighbours and your association are invited to object to such a planning application and may propose conditions that would restrict the use of the property concerned as a film location. Members should notify our association of any dwelling in their vicinity that is causing a nuisance by the continual use for film shoots and we will ask the Council to take appropriate action.
When approved film shoots are being held and residents are being unreasonably inconvenienced by for example, generator noise, crew noise and behavior or traffic congestion and the like, they should approach the location supervisor and ask that any problem be remedied. If necessary, residents can ask to see the permit that has been issued by the Council. Any unresolved issues should be reported to the Council’s Film Office liaison officer, Anton Smith, telephone 021-417 4023 or cell 084 572 0290, or email anton.smith@capetown.gov.za.

Theft of Wheelie Bins

The theft of wheelie bins seems to be on the increase. The municipality asks that residents ensure that their wheelie bins be kept on their property until the scheduled collection day and only be placed on the pavement at 06h00 on refuse collection days.
The municipality charges a tariff of R406.83 for the replacement of stolen or damaged wheelie bins where negligence by the property owner is evident, such as when a bin is left on the pavement on non-collection days. To apply for a replacement bin, residents would need to report the theft of the bin to the police and obtain a police case number or a copy of an affidavit. Residents should then contact the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089 or email wastewise.user@capetown.gov.za and provide their municipal account number, address, contact name and number as well as the police case number or copy of affidavit.
The call centre will create a system notification and provide the customer with the reference number and the bin should be delivered within five working days.

Annual Business Plans for Council’s Utility Services

The City Council has invited input to its Electricity, Water and Solid Waste Services annual business plans. Your association has submitted the following comment in regard to these services in Constantia:
•Electricity Service
In our view, this service in the Constantia area is well managed and efficiently operated.
The only issue of contention is the question of whether or not street lighting should be provided in Constantia. For many years, Constantia residents were united in their view that street lighting would detract from the rural character of Constantia. These days, with the high crime incidence, residents of Constantia seem to be split in their desire to have or not have street lighting.
We believe that the best way to establish the majority view of residents would be for the Electricity Department to undertake a survey, possibly via an electricity account survey communication. Such a survey may also be able to determine the priority areas by the undivided support received from residents in certain streets.
It is urged that this issue be included in the actions of the business plan.
•Water Service
The major issue for this service in the Constantia area is the need for water mains to be renewed. The Council has a prioritized and budgeted program for this project and our association is grateful for this. However it would be further appreciated if this project could be accelerated.
•Solid Waste Service
In a survey conducted by our association a few years ago, the household refuse collection service was rated as being highly satisfactory.
However, the issue of the recycling of garden refuse and other waste is an issue of major concern. The Council is following a process to possibly provide an alternative for the Ladies Mile facility at a site adjoining the Klip Road Cemetery (near the corner of De Waal and Prince George’s Drive). Regrettably this is not an adequate solution for the entire catchment area currently using the Ladies Mile Road depot because of the traffic congestion on the route between Constantia and the proposed Klip Road site.
It is essential for the volume of garden refuse received at Ladies Mile to be split between the proposed Klip Road site and a second site in the vicinity of Tokai, Kirstenhof and the southern portion of Constantia. Such a site for garden refuse that has been suggested for consideration is located on the old council nursery in Steenberg Drive. However, environmental issues have been raised as to whether this site could be used to receive garden refuse. If this site or some other alternative is not provided, there will no doubt be a considerable increase in dumping of garden refuse on road verges, green belts and public open space.
An alternative site for recycling of paper, glass, plastics, e-waste, rubble and the like also needs to be found for the southern portion of the Constantia – Tokai area.
A further source of regular complaint in the Constantia area is the poor servicing of refuse containers located at taxi ranks, parks, and entrances to greenbelts and public open spaces. These bins are generally overflowing and the servicing thereof is totally inadequate. When complaints are registered, the bins are cleared only to overflow again shortly thereafter.

Quick & efficient Ways to contact the City of Cape Town

There is one City Council Call Centre Number – 0860 103 089.
However, residents may be redirected to the Corporate Call Centre, the Electricity Technical Operations Centre or the Water Technical Operations Centre depending on the nature of their request.
During peak times residents also have the option of sending an SMS or an email to the Technical Operations Centre concerned, with their service request. This is especially helpful in the case of electricity outages and burst water pipes as the request is logged by an agent on behalf of the resident and routed directly to the correct department saving residents valuable time and money.
Automated messages are also placed on the system informing residents of electricity outages around the city which are being addressed by council staff.
When customers contact the Call Centre, they are given the option of receiving a reference number via SMS or e-mail. This option makes it more convenient for them to keep the reference number so that they can follow up on any outstanding service requests.
The City of Cape Town has numerous channels of communication that residents can use to contact the City in order to report service delivery faults. These include:
•Call Centre: 0860 103 089. This number can be used for all service requests relating to solid waste, electricity, water, roads and storm water and parks. The number can also be used for all accounts and general enquiries such as motor vehicle registration and traffic fines.
•SMS: 31220 for all electricity service faults and 31373 for water and sewer service faults (Other service requests are accepted)
contactus@capetown.gov.za to report all service faults
power@capetown.gov.za to report electricity service faults
watertoc@capetown.gov.za to report water and sewer service faults
•Web: Log onto the City’s website – www.capetown.gov.za – choose the “Service Requests” option on the left hand side of the screen and follow the prompts.
•Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CityofCT
•Twitter @CityofCT
•SmartCape access points: The City has installed SmartCape access computers in libraries and other walk-in centres throughout the City. The residents can use these computers to contact the city via email or the City’s website. This is a free service to the community.
•Walk-in centres: The City has Cash Offices, Housing Offices and Sub-council where residents can walk in to report service faults. The nearest such centres for the Constantia area are the Protea sub-council at the Alphen Centre and the Plumstead Municipal office in Victoria Road.

Update on outstanding Property Issues

•Old Sillery 
As reported in our previous newsletter, the Old Sillery residence is to undergo remedial work to reverse the unauthorized building work that has detracted from its heritage value. The new owner who has also bought the adjoining Cellars residence has submitted landscape designs which will enhance the environment of the two residences as a single integrated unit.
A ‘Notice of Intention to Develop’ in regard to the land below Old Sillery and the Cellars has been submitted to Heritage Western Cape. This land was recently provisionally proclaimed as a heritage site and this notice is merely an indication that a future development is to be considered. Your association has responded to this notice and advised that, in our opinion, the least impact on the site would be for the property to remain undeveloped.
The old leiwater sloot traverses this site and historically the property has been used as a market garden and is still used as such for the cultivation of flowers.
Your association will closely follow any proposed development of this site and will use its influence and its right to participate in the planning processes to object to any development that would be considered inappropriate.
•‘The Pot House’
The City Council has instituted legal proceedings against the owner of the dwelling on the Corner of Spaanschemat River and Doordrift Road for contravening the Building Regulations and the Land Use Planning Ordinance. Your association is astonished at the length of time it has taken to get this matter to court and even more astounded to understand how the owner is allowed to continue to openly and illegally trade from this property.
•Alphen Estate
The owners of the Alphen Estate (hotel) have obtained heritage permission to convert the previously disused loft space of the Old Cellars to the west of the werf for use as office accommodation. As Constantia’s registered Conservation Body, your association has been consulted by Heritage Western Cape and has been able make input on the architectural design details, the choice of building materials and, more importantly, the conservation of existing structures and heritage features.
It is often a benefit for heritage buildings to have a practical use, particularly when such use generates an income that can be made available for the maintenance and preservation of the heritage resource concerned. The Alphen Estate is an example of this situation.
•Proposed Art Gallery and Sculpture Park
The proposed development of the Art Gallery and Sculpture Park on the site in Steenberg Drive (formerly the Poultry Farm and Barnyard) is still in the planning stage. The developer has agreed to preserve the remaining old residence. Recently there was a fire that damaged the thatch roof of this residence and the developer proposed that the roof be replaced with corrugated iron. Your association opposed this proposal and it was agreed by the developer that the thatch roof would be repaired and retained.

Heritage Conservation

Since your association has become the registered Conservation Body for the Constantia – Tokai area, we have been able to make meaningful input on proposed uses of heritage sites, additions and alterations and even proposed demolition of heritage buildings. This role has added substantially to the workload of your association but the outcome thereof has been invaluable to the conservation of the rich heritage of the valley.
Your association has been most fortunate to have the valuable (honorary) services of Yvonne Leibman, who is both a practicing attorney and a registered heritage practitioner. Yvonne serves on the association’s executive and handles the heritage portfolio. Her professional input on heritage matters has ensured that we have been able to respond to the authorities concerned with a great measure of success.

Densification versus Minimum Erf Sizes

Over the past decades your association has strived to preserve the rural character and ambience of the Constantia valley with varying degrees of success. Our mandate for this objective has been enshrined in the associations’ constitution and has been reaffirmed in the survey of our members, which was undertaken in 2010.
The rural character of the Constantia Valley is anchored by the mountain ridge, the farmlands, the urban edge, and the network of green belts, rivers, commons and open spaces.
Added to these features is the demarcation of minimum erf sizes, which governs the residential plot sizes in Constantia and which range from 8 000 square meters in the upper reaches of the valley to 1 350 square meters in the lower reaches.
These minimum erf sizes for Constantia have been included in the new Cape Town Zoning Scheme as an overlay zone and this provision gives strength to our endeavours to prevent inappropriate densification.
In addition to the above mentioned minimum erf sizes, our association has used the following policies to justify our opposition to sub division applications that could, in our view, detract from the character of Constantia:
•The Tokai – Constantia Local Area Growth Development Management Plan,
•The Cape Town Spatial Development Framework and its Southern District Plan,
•The Cape Town Densification Policy, and
•The Cape Town Zoning Scheme.
The Council has frequently discouraged property owners from making applications for subdivisions where such applications are clearly without merit, which would conflict with the above mentioned policies and which would detract from the character of Constantia.
Nevertheless, the Council has from time to time approved subdivision applications even though our association has opposed them, which has resulted in erf portions being below the stipulated minimum erf size in a particular area of Constantia.
In an effort to gain a better understanding for the Council’s adjudication of subdivision applications in Constantia, members of your executive have recently met with planning officials for the Southern District.
It seems that your association has been using the minimum erf size as a definitive and inflexible reason to object to subdivision applications, while the Council’s planners have taken a more holistic view of the merits and implications of subdivisions to the immediate neighbourhood of each proposed sub division. Aspects such as the extent of a departure to the minimum erf size; the size of the existing and proposed dwellings; the presence of trees; the streetscape and entry points to the properties are all taken into account.
The Council is also mindful that the minimum erf size map is now some 30 years old and over time has, to some extent, become less logical. A professional review of the map of minimum erf sizes is required. This could be coupled with the drafting of a local area structure plan for the Constantia valley. However, this may not be viewed as a priority by the Council and your association may have to consider appointing consultants to assist with this project. This issue will be pursued.