Unfortunately we have heard so much about the lack of service delivery that we ourselves are becoming complacent and have begun to take for granted that ‘nothing can be done about it’, to the point when often, Constantia looks like a beautiful girl, with dirty smudges on her face!
But there is something we can all do to show more pride in Constantia: When you see something that makes your area look untidy, be it some dumping, signage, over long grass on the sidewalk, a pothole, weeds that need removing, etc, please be a ‘housekeeper’ and report it. Alan Dolby, the Manager of the CPOA is in the office every morning and has a very good rapport with City officials to whom he passes on requests from members. Or, if it an urgent matter that needs reporting in the afternoon, there is a list of Council Departments and their telephone numbers on the back page of this Newsletter that you can contact direct.
We do live in one of the most beautiful areas in the City and in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. The preservation of the beauty, rural character and historic heritage of Constantia can be achieved if property owners all become actively involved as the custodians of the area and make use of the services that the CPOA offers to members.
A tight control is kept on the CPOA finances and expenditure is largely centered on the administrative costs of running our office. The payment of a severance package to the former secretary and the recruitment of a manager was an extraordinary cost that occurred during the past financial period.
The other major expense is the production of our newsletter and we would like to ask for more advertisers to come forward to help cover the costs of printing and postage. From time to time it is necessary to engage consultants to undertake research and to represent us on, for example, major planning issues. Funds have previously been sourced externally for these purposes but it would be wise to build up a modest reserve for such contingencies. Subscriptions are the major source of CPOA’s income and of course many of our members generously add a voluntary donation to their subscriptions. There are some 4000 properties in the Constantia Valley area covered by CPOA of which about a quarter are paid up members of our association. We need to encourage our neighbours and friends in Constantia to become paying members.
Subscriptions were not increased last year. However your executive will be recommending that subscriptions be increased for the ensuing year by about 10%, which is below the current inflation rate. Rounded off this will mean that a single member will pay R170 pa and a household membership will be R230 pa.
Please note that subscriptions were due on 1 September 2008 for the year ending on 31 August 2009. During the last two months of the 2007/2007 year, about 80 members paid their 2008/2009 at the old rate. Their memberships will be credited with this amount for the 2008/2009 year.
CONSTANTIA VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTRE PARKING
Is parking at the Constantia Village a problem or would the provision of additional parking be problematic to Constantia property owners? This is the vexed question with which the CPOA is grappling.
The CPOA is a party to a servitude agreement in respect of the Constantia Village site, which gives the CPOA the right to limit, amongst other aspects of the development, extensions to the buildings and parking facilities of the centre. The parking proposals may require an amendment of the servitude.
The centre management maintains that parking demand at the centre has been exceeding supply for the past five years and traffic delays and excessive traffic circulation being experienced by customers searching for parking both during peak and non-peak periods is the cause of major frustration.
Research undertaken by Constantia Village highlights that, of 55% of customers who disliked something about the centre, 66% dislike the parking and traffic congestion the most. Consultants to the centre have analysed 6 sites that could be used for the provision of additional parking. Five of these sites, owned by the city, are open parking areas and one involves the construction of a parking garage on the Constantia Village property. The parking garage proposal has three options of differing sizes and the one recommended has 3 levels and no basement. Of all the sites the recommended parking garage is the option preferred by the Constantia Village management.
The CPOA invites all interested persons to attend a meeting to be held at 19h30 on 29th October 2008 in the Alphen Centre Hall, Constantia to receive a presentation on the proposed parking garage for the Constantia Village shopping centre.
Paid-up members of the CPOA are invited to ballot in favour or against the construction of a parking garage. Two persons will be allowed a vote for household membership and one person for single membership. Please bring identification to vote. The CPOA office will be the ballot venue and will be open for this purpose on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th November 2008 between the hours of 09:00 and 12:00.
NEIGHBOURS: WHAT RIGHT DO YOU HAVE TO SEE BUILDING PLANS?
Your neighbour lodges building plans with the municipality. Are you automatically entitled to a copy of the plans and a hearing from the municipality before it decides whether to approve the plans?
The short answer is that normally you are not entitled to be consulted but in practice you may find your local authority consulting you anyway following a new Constitutional Court ruling. It is established law that where for example, a title deed condition is being infringed, interested parties must get prior notice; and building regulations may require notice in specific instances. In all other cases, although procedural fairness requires that anyone who is affected by an administrative decision must be given a hearing before those decisions are taken, the Constitution Court has now held that this only applies “where the administrative action affects materially and adversely” your “rights or legitimate expectations”. So what is a “legitimate expectation”?
Just being a neighbour isn’t enough. A legitimate expectation, the Court held, “cannot arise from ownership of a neighbouring property”- you are only entitled to a hearing before approval of plans where:
- You have been expressly promised such a hearing, or
- It is your local authority’s regular practice to do so (which is unlikely).
However, the court further commented: “it will be helpful and enhancing to the process of the Building Control Officer….invites, from owners of neighbouring properties, representations about the impact the proposed building might have on their properties. “In practice therefore you may find that you will be consulted, even though this is not legally required. It is still worth lodging a full objection with your local municipality immediately if you happen to get wind of plans in advance – but if you don’t, you are left with attacking the plans after the approval. If your property’s value is at risk, do so without delay.
LAND USE APPLICATIONS ON HERITAGE SITES BEING DEALT WITH
The relentless pressure for developments in the Constantia Valley continues apace – particularly on properties that have historic value – and among those the CPOA Land Use Planning Sub-committee is dealing with include:
- Porter Estate: This significant, large estate at the southern end of the Valley which borders on the Table Mountain National Park and the Tokai forest is under threat from the Provincial Government. An announcement was made recently by the previous Minister of Transport, Minister Fransman that he was going to build 500 houses on 25h of the estate for Constantia land claimants and make other areas available for commercial use and small scale farming. The CPOA has made its views very clear to the Provincial authority – that no re-planning of the estate should take place without extensive consultation with residents. The Porter land is outside the Urban Edge, which according to Province’s own policy, should not be used for either residential or commercial development; it is trust land currently zoned ‘rural’ and it is included in the inventory of heritage resources in the Valley. Apart from the one ‘grandstanding’ pre-election announcement from Min Fransman, we have heard nothing further.
- Steenberg Farm: An unfortunate episode in the proposed development of the historic werf on Steenberg has resulted in Heritage Western Cape (HWC) directing the City of Cape town to issue a ‘cease-works’ order on the owners. This was as a result of unauthorized building work being carried out on this historic werf. In order to oppose the development of the werf into rezoned and sub-divided portions, to be sold off as private residences, the CPOA engaged the services of a heritage consultant, Dr Stephen Townsend. To date, our arguments against the development have been accepted by HWC. Our concerns are based on the historic importance of Steenberg. It is the oldest proclaimed farm in South Africa and the original Steenberg house, which has been tampered with, has the first Title Deed ever to be issued in South Africa. The original document, until a few years ago, hung in the entrance to the house. It was signed by Simon van der Stel in 1686. We believe that this Grade 1 (National) heritage resource, which is earmarked for inclusion a World Heritage Site comprising the cultural landscapes of the Cape Winelands, will be severely compromised if it is re-zoned, subdivided and sold off to private owners.
- Glen Dirk Estate: This is yet another historic wine farm whose owners have applied for partial re-zoning and sub-division. It too is included in the inventory of heritage resources in the Constantia Valley. The CPOA has opposed the application to divide off seven portions of the farm for single residential use.
- Sillery Farm: This on-going saga is still not resolved. As reported in the last CPOA Newsletter, Heritage Western Cape, at the request of the CPOA, directed the owners of the property to move the boundary of the residential plots along Constantia Main Road to the other side of an historic ‘leiwater’ (a slave-built water furrow) in order for it to be uncovered, restored and afforded reasonable access. It is important that the furrow, along its entire length, through six other properties, be preserved. New plans have been submitted by the owners of Sillery, but they do not conform to the requirements laid out by HWC and the CPOA will therefore continue to request HWC to not approve them.
- Summit Road Kramat: The CPOA has expressed its disappointment that the trustees of this historic site have not fulfilled an undertaking to withdraw plans to build a gatekeepers cottage and toilets but have gone ahead and applied for these. It was an undertaking given to the residents in the area and the CPOA that the plans be withdrawn. We welcomed the proposal for restoration of the Kramat and plans were drawn up for the site, which included a beautiful Persian garden, washing facilities for worshippers at the Kramat, toilets and a gatekeepers cottage as one integrated development. We wanted it to be all done as one entity in order to avoid compromising what could have been a most welcome development.
COUNCIL POLICY ON SPEEDHUMPS
A frequent request from residents is for speed humps to slow down traffic on residential roads. Common road safety concerns are centred on the vulnerability of children, the elderly, cyclists and recreational users of roads. But often, it is the noise of speeding cars – mainly ‘rat runners’ – that sparks off an application to control speeding traffic. As willing as the City Council often is to agree that conditions on certain roads are unacceptable, they are mostly bound by National or Provincial legislation in which speed bumps are regarded as ‘physical barriers’.
In general, when the city considers applications, these are prioritized for roads that have schools or retirement complexes on them and those that run past public amenities.
One of the reasons why the city is reluctant to use speed bumps to slow down traffic is that it could be liable to claims for damage or injury if the traffic calming measures are not accompanied by adequate warning signage – and with the removal of traffic signs as a fairly major part of a ‘sport’ indulged in by vandals and delinquents, the City is reluctant to agree to them, except where absolutely necessary to protect vulnerable people. Also, one of the things that are often not considered by people who want speed bumps is that they may slow down traffic but they also slow down emergency services.
A RAFT OF NEW POLICIES FROM THE COUNCIL
A whirlwind of proposed policies is engulfing members of your Executive Committee, who have a duty to members to comment on them, especially if they are capable of changing the environment of Constantia or could impact in some other way on residents.
Boundary Walls and Fences:
Members will no doubt have seen the many reactions to a new proposal that would govern the appearance and height of boundary walls, security measures on boundaries and other fencing issues – especially those fronting onto streets. The Council says this is in reaction to many complaints about unsightly materials and the adverse visual effects of extreme security measures, there are also complaints about the safety aspects of electric fencing – especially the safety of children – and accidental contact with live wires.
Boundary walls are subject to planning permission (a regulation which is largely ignored) and in terms of section of the National Building Regulations, written authority must be obtained from the Council to erect a boundary wall or fence.
The full proposal under the title ‘Boundary Walls and Fences Draft Policy” can be accessed on the City Council’s website (www.capetown.gov.za) or from the Protrea Sub-Council offices at theAlphen Centre. In essence it lays down guidelines for all types of fencing and the heights at which these are acceptable.
The CPOA has welcomed this proposal as there is no doubt that the plethora of ultra high solid walls, topped with spikes and strands of electric fencing is having an adverse effect on the environment of Constantia. The new proposals are:
- No boundary wall or fence shall exceed 1.8m in height on a street boundary and 2.1m on a side boundary,
- At least 40% of the wall must be visually permeable
- The maximum height of an electric fence permitted will be 450mm and it must be 1.8m above the ground level at any point
- Electric fences are only allowed to be erected on top of or attached to walls or fences (no free standing ones) and are not to encroach over the site boundary (no cantilevered electric fences allowed)
- Security spikes can only be put on top of boundary walls and cannot be more than 1.8m above ground level
- Razor or barbed wire will not be permitted in any residential area (only in industrial areas)
- Glass shards are also banned in residential areas.
This proposal has not yet been adopted by the Council and anyone wanting to comment on the policy can send their views to the Protea Sub-Council Manager, Brian Ford, at the Alphen Centre or to Alan Dolby, CPOA Manager –either by email at email@example.com or dropped off at the CPOA office at the Alphen Centre.
Council wants to limit the number of dogs and cats you may own to two:
Another policy which is possibly contentious, because among other things, it will control the number of dogs on any property, has been proposed by the Council. Called the ‘Animal bylaw, 2008’ it determines that you may only keep two dogs on a residential property with one dwelling if the dogs are over the age of six months and three if one of them is under that age and there are two dwellings on the property. On agricultural properties no more than six dogs will be allowed. To keep more than these numbers, you will have to apply to the council for a permit (for which you will have to pay a fee). These regulations will not apply to registered kennel owners, pet shop owners or trainers of guide dogs.
In addition, a dog owner can be fined if their bitch is on heat and found outside their property. Nor will you be allowed to keep a dog which barks, whines or howls to an unreasonable extent.
The rules that are proposed for cats stipulate that no more than two cats over the age of six months can be kept in a dwelling unit (four if there are two dwellings on the same property) and if you live on a farm, then you will be allowed to keep six.
This proposed policy also contains regulations for keeping horses, and other ‘farm’ animals such as poultry.
The draft policy is available on the City’s website or from the Sub-Council offices at the Alphen Centre.
Property owners have to pay to remove graffiti.
Many property owners will be alarmed to read that the City Council has decided that they will be responsible for painting over graffiti that so called ‘artists’ have painted on their walls. This decision has been made with very little, if any, public consultation. The Council will only pay to remove these ‘embellishments’ from their own property.
LADIES MILE REFUSE DEPOT
Councillor Ross has arranged two meetings with the council officials and the depot contractors to get commitment to improving the management and the unacceptable condition of the depot site. A list of about a dozen items has been identified for attention. For example, the Council has agreed to fence the site and to hard surface the muddy vehicle access and exit tracks and the contractor is to improve security and to control the vagrancy problems. This refuse site is a very convenient facility and its improvement would be welcomed by property owners.
CELLULAR MASTS: A boon to good reception or a blot on the landscape?
Constantia residents often complain about the poor cellular phone reception in certain parts of the valley. Equally residents are often not always happy to have telecommunication infrastructure installed near their properties. The CPOA is routinely asked to comment on applications from cellular companies and other telecommunication bodies regarding the erection of base transceiver stations (masts and towers) and associated equipment. The standpoint of the CPOA with regard to these applications is assessed by taking the following information into consideration:
- Compliance with the City Council’s cellular telecommunication infrastructure policy, which seeks to strike a balance with economic development on one hand, and the conservation of tourist, environmental and heritage characteristics on the other hand.
- The Council is required to apply its mind to applications in terms the Land Use Planning Ordinance
- Radio frequency emission levels must comply with the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Such guidelines are endorsed by the World Health Organization and the Department of Health in SA.
- The City Council is responsible to the testing and monitoring of radio frequency emissions levels and the CPOA will insist on adequate performance in this regard.
- The sharing of cellular masts and equipment should be encouraged in order to reduce proliferation of masts in our area.
- Visual impact of these structures should be assessed to ensure that the aesthetics of the Constantia area is not affected. Careful consideration should be applied to proposed base station sites on or near heritage sites; national monuments; urban conservation areas and special scenic and tourist areas. It is noted that the telecommunication companies are transforming their once obtrusive masts into more environmentally friendly units that do not detract from the environment.
Property owners in Constantia are urged to take a balanced view which accords with the approach outlined above when deciding whether or not to host a telecommunication infrastructure on their property or when deciding whether to object to such installations near their properties.
GETTING IN TOUCH………..
CPOA Tel/Fax: 021-7944388: Manager: Alan Dolby
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.simonbarnett.co.za/cpoa
Ward Councillors: Neil Ross Alphen Centre 021-794 2493 or 083-628 4144
Leon van Rensburg 021-782 6012 or 082-872 6340
Protea Sub-council 021-794 2493
South Peninsula Sub-council 021-784 2011
All emergencies 107 or 021-424 7715 from a mobile
Alphen Clinic 021-794 5906
Building Inspector 021-712 4604
Burst pipes 086-010 3089
Crime watch control centre 086 000 2669
Dumping 086-010 3089
Garbage collection 021-704 1005
Hawking problems 021-703 3075
Fire Brigade 021-794 1128
Health Inspector 021-710 8078
Ladies Mile Refuse Depot 021-400 5239
Land Use Inspector 021-710 8276
Meter readings/consumption queries 086-021 5015
Metro Police Control Room 021-596 1400
Noise complaints 021-596 1999 or 021-788 9350
Parks and Forests 021-791 8300
Powers failures 080-022 0440
Pre-paid meter problems 086 022 0441
Street lights 086-022 0440
Roads & Drainage 021-713 9500
Sewerage blockages, water leaks & supply failure 086-010 3054