Newsletter October 2009

Subscriptions Due: CPOA membership subs for 2009/2010 are now due.
Please see enclosed membership renewal form for your kind attention.

New Plans to Manage Growth and Change in the City

The CPOA will respond to protect the unique qualities of the Valley and we ask for members’ input

The City of Cape Town has invited comment from residents and organisations on its new long term spatial plans for the City of Cape Town. These will comprise a Spatial Development Framework (SDF) for the City as a whole, as well as eight District Structure Plans (DSP), a densification strategy and urban edge plan. Together with the proposed Integrated Zoning Scheme this is the most far-reaching planning exercise the City has done in decades and everyone who lives in or runs a business in Cape Town should take a serious look at the implications it holds for their area.
These plans will determine the future spatial form and structure of Cape Town; they will identify where development should take place and where it should not; where residential densification should happen as well as the provision of policy guidance to direct decision- making on the nature, scale, form and location of urban development, land use changes, infrastructural investment, disaster mitigation and environmental resource protection.
The vision of the SDF is “A City that is resilient and adoptive; a City within a region;
anchored in its natural assets and organised around development corridors.”
The Constantia Property Owners’ Association will, with other residents’ associations in the Valley and the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance, be formulating detailed responses on the implications of any proposals for the Constantia Valley. We will focus on those aspects of these new plans which have a bearing on the unique qualities of the Constantia Valley – not only the natural beauty and setting but also cultural assets which give the valley its rural character. The CPOA constitution has as its primary objective the protection of the character of Constantia and we will continue to fight for this.
The vision expressed in the draft structure plan for district H, which includes the Constantia Valley, is: “A district renowned for its natural and cultural beauty with a dynamic tourism-centred economy, recreation opportunities, accessible to all Capetonians, urban areas of character in harmonious relationship with nature and significant new work and living opportunities within “walking distance of centred urban villages’ and along the public transport orientated Main Road corridor.”

Environmental management plans

To bolster the retention of the natural and cultural beauty of district H, an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is included with the structure plan. In effect, these EMPs will guide planning and land use management, help in the adjudication of development applications and establish environmental priorities.
District H faces a number of critical environmental challenges and is one of the most important districts of Cape Town with respect to biodiversity and the draft DSP for the area goes into fairly detailed proposals for managing these. However heritage and cultural resources get very superficial treatment. This manifests in sweeping statements with little substance such as “Protect the Constantia Winelands Cultural Landscape and avoid inappropriate development and densification to retain a sense of ‘countryside”. That is all that is said. So the CPOA will be responding on this point in some detail! There is no acknowledgement of the work done by Professor Todeschini on behalf of the CPOA on an inventory of heritage resources in the Valley, which has provisional approval from both national and provincial heritage agencies. Neither is there any mention of the work being done on the nomination of the Cultural Landscape of the Cape Winelands as a World Heritage Site – of which the Constantia winelands will form part. There is no specific mention of the vast network of riverine open spaces and how these should be sustained.
Overall we are disappointed in the Structure Plan proposals for District H. We find very little inspiration or vision in the plan, which is bland and in many respects contradictory to other plans. It is also based on totally artificial boundaries, made up by a collection of wards, which were determined politically rather than on sound spatial planning or community criteria.
One of the major areas of contradiction lies in determining minimum erf sizes. The Integrated Zoning Scheme, which is far advanced as it is awaiting final approval by the Provincial Government, the minimum erf sizes that currently apply to Constantia are re- enforced with an overlay zone that retains the current minimum erf sizes. The proposals in the new structure plan for our area however propose developments in highly visible positions with smaller, undersized erven, e.g. residential development at a higher density than surrounding areas for the Riding for the Disabled land in Brommersvlei; high density housing with mixed development on the ‘park and ride’ site between Kendal Rd and Ladies Mile; medium density development on Dreyersdal farm; and the same for the Firgrove school site, among others. None of the new development proposals in the Valley are at the sizes determined in our zoning map.
It is clear that the proposals have been formulated with little regard to the previous structure plans that were prepared for the Constantia Valley, in spite of assurances that they would form the basis of the new draft plan.

Densification Strategy

Urban sprawl is a threat to the long term sustainability of Cape Town. The thousands of people seeking benefits from urban life, streaming into Cape Town, are overwhelming the outer edges of the City and as the city grows, valuable agricultural land is being lost along with valuable bio-diversity, natural areas and scenic views.
It also puts enormous pressures on City budgets to provide infrastructure and transport to far-flung areas and on Provincial budgets to provide education facilities, hospitals and other social services. A sprawling city is also inefficient and expensive when it comes to delivering services – which the ratepayer has to largely fund.

In an effort to address this problem, the City has drawn up a Densification Strategy (DS) for Cape Town to offer more housing and bring people closer to job opportunities and transport.
Among the strategies the City’s planners recommend are the freedom to build second dwellings or double dwellings or adding a storey to a house; allowing much higher residential buildings, consolidating vacant or developed properties and then redeveloping them at higher densities; allowing smaller sub-divisions and building on vacant or underdeveloped land.
However the planners do acknowledge that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and that different parts of the City are suited to different residential densities as well as different approaches to densification. In responding to this section of the new planning proposals, the CPOA will be emphasising the need to maintain the character of unique areas of Cape Town such as Constantia and we will remind the planners about the provisions in the Integrated Zoning Scheme which preserves minimum erf sizes in Constantia.
The Densification Strategy claims that all residential areas are suitable for densification as long as it does not damage the character of an area and the City’s engineers are satisfied that the infrastructure will cope with higher densities. The CPOA will argue that higher density growth is not suited to an area with a rural character and that ‘sense of place’ must be maintained.
Primarily development of high density will be focussed on what the new plans call ‘activity routes’ and ‘activity streets’. The former would include Main Road, from the edges of the City to Simon’s Town; Klipfontein, Durban, Koeberg and Voortrekker Roads. An ‘activity street’ is a local street with concentrated activity that is close to transport and institutional facilities.
Other areas singled out for densification are those that are called ‘places of amenity and attraction’ such as public places, heritage areas, places with good views and recreational attraction. Examples of this are Kalk Bay, the Cape Quarter, Simon’s Town, Gordon’s Bay, etc.

Urban Edge Developments

As part of the overall planning that the City is undertaking, a guide for developments along the urban edge has been developed which is designed to protect natural resources boundaries, mountains, coastal edges and flood prone areas. This plan identifies zones on both sides of a demarcated edge in which specific management policies for land use will be imposed.
Given that the entire western boundary of the Constantia valley has a defined urban edge, this is a welcome proposal as it will help stop buildings with adverse visual impact creeping up mountain slopes as well as imposing a buffer between the built environment and historic farms which have been identified as part of the cultural landscape of the Cape winelands. Responding to the four new planning documents that have been released for public comment is a mammoth task so the CPOA would welcome any comments that members may have to make based on a study of them. They are available at libraries or on the City’s website: www.capetown.gov.za/en/sdf. Email your input to cpoa@yebo.co.za., or drop them off at the office in the Alphen Centre. When the final CPOA comments have been formulated, they will be put on our website for members’ information.

Low income housing plans in Constantia shelved.

Controversial plans to build high density, low income housing on two school sites, one on the corner of Spaanschemat River Rd and Firgrove opposite Uitsig wine estate and the other in Soetvlei Ave, adjoining the American International School, have been withdrawn by Province. These two sites were among several parcels of land that were handed by the ANC provincial government to national government’s Housing Development Agency a week before the last elections. The process has been challenged by Premier Helen Zille and her cabinet on the basis of legal opinion that held that the process was illegal.
Discussions have been held between Premier Zille and Minister Tokyo Sexwale, National Minister of Human Settlements, to try to resolve the issue and province has refused to hand over the title deed to the land.
As one of the primary objectors to the development proposals, the CPOA has been officially notified by the consultants appointed to conduct the environmental impact assessment – The Environmental Partnership – that the project has been cancelled by the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works.

Residents now responsible for removing graffiti.

In a draft by-law, the City of Cape Town has proposed that property owners be made responsible for removing graffiti from their properties at their own cost!
Although they will impose huge fines (R10 000 for a first offence) on anyone they catch disfiguring a wall, natural surface, or anything facing the street, the onus for the removal of graffiti is on the property owner if the perpetrators are not caught.

The City is responsible for removing graffiti on all public surfaces, such as bus shelters, road signs, park equipment, electricity boxes and the like.
The CPOA has a test kit of a new and inexpensive product which can easily and effectively remove graffiti. Members are welcome to use this – just contact the manager on 021-794
4388. This product is made by Plascon and is available at hardware stores. See Advert.

Neighbours have the right to overturn building plans

According to a ruling by the Constitutional Court, even if plans have been approved by the Municipality and comply with all building and zoning regulations, a resident can intervene if, in their opinion an application could have a negative impact on their neighbourhood.
This ruling was given by the Constitutional Court in ‘Walele vs City of Cape Town and others 2008(6) SA 129 (CC)’. The case turned on the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, section 7(1) (b) (ii) which states that a municipality must reject a building plan if it is satisfied that the building will would disfigure the surrounding area, be unsightly or objectionable, negatively affect the value of adjoining or neighbouring properties or endanger life or property.

However, in a recent Supreme Court of Appeal case of True Motives 84 vs Madhi, the judges dealt with the same issues and decided that the municipality must only reject plans if it is satisfied that they will cause a breach of section 7 (1) (b). The municipality, it was ruled, cannot reject plans where it believes a “possibility exists” regarding the negative effect on surrounding properties.

Residents should check zoning or face the law

The City’s planning and building development department has given notice to residents that they face the law if they start a business on a property with a residential zoning without Council permission and has advised any illegal businesses to close until such permission is granted.
The City has also put in place a ‘complaints process’ and once a written complaint is received, a ‘transgressor’ will be served a notice with a specific deadline and if they fail to close down their business in time, the matter would be prosecuted. The Land Use Planning Ordinance allows a magistrate to impose a fine of up to R100 000 or a term of imprisonment. Ms Cheryl Walters, Director of Planning and Building Development says that since the enforcement policy was implemented 9 months ago, in excess of 500 notification to cease the business activity have been issued, 280 unauthorized businesses have been closed and in 39 court cases there have been 29 successful prosecutions
Dedicated Courts are to be set up in different areas of the city to deal exclusively with land use transgressions. There are eight land use contraventions that appear on the Ward 62 Forum agenda which the Ward Councillor has undertaken to follow up.

Appalling state of Constantia Roads

It is now official – the roads in Constantia are in a worse state than any of the surrounding Wards that make up the Protea Sub-Council. A report on the Ward 62 Forum agenda shows that we have the lowest rating as ‘very good’ and the highest rating for ‘poor’ and
‘very poor’. In fact our ‘very poor’ rating shows that our roads are 5 times worse than those in Bergvliet/Meadowridge.
The CPOA receives an enormous number of complaints about potholes and roads breaking up, which are passed on to the local roads department, who, on the whole used to respond quite quickly although the level of service has slowed considerably in the past winter months.
But the Council is not addressing some fundamental causes of the poor state of our roads. Firstly, the repairs that are made are inadequate. A bit of tar and gravel stamped into a hole lasts only until the next rain, when the hole reappears, usually bigger than when it was initially filled. There is little supervision or quality control over the filling of pot holes and roads that are breaking up are just left with an excuse of budget limitations. This can be very short -sighted because work done early and properly will usually cost less than when a road has deteriorated so badly that it needs to be completely resurfaced.
Most importantly however is that most of our roads are built to ‘local road’ standards and were never designed to carry the heavy trucks that use them daily. Perhaps the Council should start charging a fee on any development that needs delivery of heavy loads. (They justify charging a ‘development charge’ on businesses that operate from homes, so why not when building takes place?). But one of the main causes is large, heavily loaded trucks driving through Constantia, on local roads, to other parts of the City, especially trucks delivering merchandise to shopping centres.

Perhaps the state of our roads needs to be aired at the Mayor’s address to the Constantiaberg communities – see notice below.

Taking the City to the People

The Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato, is undertaking a road show to address communities on service delivery issues. He will be addressing the Constantiaberg communities on Thursday 29 October 2009 from 19:00 to 20:30 at the Alphen Centre Hall, Constantia Main Road.

Revised by-law to regulate the keeping of animals.

After an outcry from the public over certain clauses in a proposed by-law governing the keeping of pets, the City has made some revisions, which should calm those people who were very opposed to it.
Among the improvements that have been made is a relaxation on the number of dogs that can be kept on a property zoned single residential. Pet owners may now keep four dogs and four cats on a ‘large sized’ property (600ms and greater). Anyone wishing to have more pets can apply to the Council for a permit to do so but if a household has more than the stipulated number they can remain on the property for only nine months, after which the stipulated number will apply. (The regulations say that all the four dogs must be over 6 months old, so the regulations are unclear about puppies!).
Another aspect of the by-law which has raised a lot of concerns is the control of barking dogs. The new draft by-law is however very specific on what ‘nuisance behaviour’ constitutes. No dog may bark for more that six minutes in each hour or for more than three minutes in any half hour. A resident whose neighbours’ pets cause a nuisance can report it to the Council. (Tel 0860 103 089)
There will be ‘free running’ areas for dogs and some areas where dogs have to be on a leash. But in all areas the pet owner is obliged to remove any mess their pet may make and place it in a litter bin.

NEWS IN BRIEF:

1. A new electronic reporting system for all service complaints: Just by calling 0860
103 089 or emailing contactus@cpetown.gov.za residents can now log a service query or complaint. Or you can use an SMS (no more than 160 characters). Your contact with then be logged and a reference number issued to you so that you can track your complaint or query’s progress.
2. ‘Pot House’ application for business offices refused: An application to turn this troublesome property into offices has failed. Situated on the corner of Spaanschemat River and Doordrift Roads, this property has had a troubled history as it is zoned single residential but the owners have pursued commercial rights for the past 10 years. The primary reason for the refusal was the same as in the past: There is in place a Constantia Triangle Structure Plan that prevents commercial creep into residential areas by containing it within the Constantia Village precinct. In the mean time, the Council is taking the owner to Court for allegedly contravening the zoning regulations. The Court date is set for 5 October 2009.

3. Development contributions on departures and consent uses: In response to a motivation by a Councillor to have Development Charges waived for bed and breakfasts and guest houses, the Council has reiterated why these are necessary and confirmed that they will be charged, not only on these operations but all departures and developments. Development charges are a levy imposed by the Council to compensate for additional services that may be required. The principles that are applied are that any increase in land use rights (temporary or permanent) generates additional loads/demands on services such as water, sewerage, storm water, roads, etc onto the bulk services in an area and the municipality must cater for these. The CPOA supports the principle of ‘user pays’ so that the existing ratepayers do not have to subsidise businesses or new developments.

4. Quad bikes on the Kendal Rd site: The use of this area by quad bikers has caused a great nuisance to surrounding residents – not only noise but dust in summer too – and the traffic police have now responded by patrolling the area and issuing fines. A sign has also been erected which notifies the public that no motorized vehicles are permitted to use the area.

5. The future of the garden refuse site: This is still uncertain as the land claims that have been made on the whole site bounded by Spaanschemat River, Ladies Mile and Kendal Roads include the current garden refuse site. An investigation is underway for an alternative site and the Sub-Council will make a recommendation on this when the officials have completed their investigation. The CPOA is steadfast in not wanting the garden refuse drop-off site to be moved and we have informed our Ward Councillor of our standpoint.

6. ‘No cycling’ signs requested for the Alphen trail: A request has been made to the ward Councillor by resident to display signs forbidding cycling on the Alphen trail. The reason given is that it is dangerous for walkers and their dogs. Bicycles are silent and startle walkers, often causing accidents. Since the greenbelt walks were started there has been a rule that no cycling is allowed but the signs are regularly removed by cyclists.

7. Illegal taxi ranks in Constantia: The illegal stacking of taxis on Spaanschemat River Road at the intersection with Klein Constantia Road; outside the Baptist Church on Ladies Mile and at the intersection of Southern Cross Drive and Parish Road are an ongoing problem in spite of undertakings that Law Enforcement Officers would monitor these situations and issue fines. Additional officers have been appointed to do duty with busses and taxi’s in Wynberg, two of whom are meant to be ‘roving’ monitors to rid the area of illegal taxi stacking but so far they do not seem to have deterred the illegal parkers.

8. Herzlia School Development: The Herzlia School has made application for the rezoning and sub-division of the southern portion of its school fields along Kendal Road. This application and a basic environmental assessment are being processed by the City Council and the Provincial Government respectively. The CPOA has, at the request of the residents in the area, submitted objection and comment on the proposals. The intention is to develop 29 high density residences comprising a gated, walled, partially double-storied, and semi-detached cluster scheme. The neighbouring property owners contend that the loss of a large open space of greenery, to be replaced with an inappropriate development which is out of character with the area, will impact negatively on their properties. Our association, together with the property owners, will continue to resist this development as the processing of the applications progress.

9. Two Constantia Meetings: The CPOA AGM will be held on 11 November 2009 at

19:30 in the Alphen Hall. Directly thereafter a short inaugural meeting of the Constantia Valley Heritage Association will be held. See agendas for these meetings enclosed herewith.

GETTING IN TOUCH………..

CPOA Tel/Fax: 021-7944388 Email: cpoa@yebo.co.za
Web site: www.simonbarnett.co.za/cpoa
Ward Councillors: Neil Ross Alphen Centre 021-794 2493 or 083-628 4144
Denis Joseph 084-703 9266
Protea Sub-council 021-794 2493
South Peninsula Sub-council 021-784 2011
Municipal Offices, Plumstead 021-710 8000
All emergencies 107 or 021-424 7715 from a mobile
All Municipal Service Complaints 086 010 3089
Ambulance 10177
Alphen Clinic 021-794 5906
Baboons 021-782 2015
Building Inspector 021-712 4604
Burst pipes 086-010 3054
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 0860 103 089
Metro Police Control Room 021-596 1400
Noise complaints 021-596 1999 or 021-788 9350
Parks and Forests 021-791 8300
Power failures 080-022 0440
Pre–paid meter problems 080-022 0440
Street lights 080-022 0440
Roads & Drainage 021-713 9500

Sewerage blockages, water leaks & supply failure 086-010 3054

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