Newsletter September 2015

 

September 2015 Newsletter .

Alphen Centre, Constantia Main Road
PO Box 68 Constantia 7848
tel/fax 021 7944388
e-mail cpoa@yebo.co.za
Registered as a Ratepayer Association and a Conservation Body

Newsletter

September 2015

Contents

INVITATION to

2015 Annual General Meeting of the

Constantia Property Association

DATE: Thursday 15 October 2015

TIME: 7:30 pm

PLACE: Alphen Hall, Alphen Centre, Constantia

GUEST SPEAKER: Mr Craig Carthy (Link Africa director)

He will give a presentation on the fibre to the home (FTTH) project in Constantia
The minutes of last year’s AGM and membership application forms can be found on our website www.constantiapoa.co.za under ‘Notice Board’. The official notice and the Agenda for the AGM together with Proxy Forms and ExCo Nomination Forms will be available on the website in due course.

Again, we urge our existing members to spread the word and perhaps invite prospective new members to attend the AGM to find out first-hand what the Association is all about.


Re-branding the CPOA

Several initiatives to attract new members, in particular the ‘new generation’, have not had the desired results. Reasons for this are believed to be:

  • Many Constantia residents are not unaware of the CPOA and its benefits to the community
  • Others perceive that the CPOA is only concerned with town planning and conservation issues
  • The demographics of Constantia are changing (‘the generation shift’) and the CPOA image is not appealing to the ‘younger generation’ of property owners
  • A general apathy

Clearly a new strategy is required. What is needed is a re-branding of the CPOA and then a vigorous marketing campaign to promote it and make people aware of its functions so that they are motivated to become members and get involved.
It is recognized that the ‘younger generation’ lead very full lives and that their time is at a premium – so the CPOA has to be relevant and appealing. The Association can achieve this by becoming more of a support base for the community and at the same time continue its role of conservation body and interfacing with the authorities.
Hand in hand with this re-branding is the need to communicate more appropriately and effectively with the community using modern social media platforms – thus the idea of a Constantia Web Portal was conceived.
The Constantia Web Portal will be the ‘umbrella’ landing page from where residents, visitors, businesses and the general public can be directed to other appropriate websites. It will be premised on civic and not commercial interests.
Part of the re-branding strategy is to change the name of the CPOA to the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA). It is also proposed to open membership up to residents who do not necessarily own property but rent. Any changes to the constitution will need to be ratified by members at the forthcoming AGM, which is planned for 15 October. A presentation of the proposed Constantia Web Portal and re-branding strategy will be given at the AGM.


Fibre to the Home
Update & Reasons for Delays

Having got off to a flying start (as reported in our April newsletter), the FTTH project implementation has hit headwinds in the form of red tape. Several Constantia residents have expressed a sense of frustration with the apparent slow progress – the time line for the entire project roll out is comprehensively documented under STATUS on the website www.constantiafibre.com.
The problem arises because a contractual agreement is required to be concluded between the City and Link Africa/Frogfoot, the JV company doing the installation. This is necessary as the fibre cable network is largely through existing stormwater and sewer reticulation systems, which are City-owned assets.
Although there has been ongoing mutual engagement between the City and the JV Company since its application to utilise municipal infrastructure, it appears that there are differences between expectations and the reality of how quickly processes take in Council. Once the terms and conditions of a contract have been settled, a public participation process must be undertaken and the outcome thereof, together with input from affected Subcouncils, placed before full Council for a decision.
The project team have had meetings with the City’s Mayoral Committee Member dealing with fibre, Councillor Xanthea Limberg, but it seems that there are no short cuts and process must be followed. She has facilitated engagements with all the relevant departments to ensure that the delays are addressed and has also met and extensively engaged with Link Africa’s team to ensure all parties are working together to progress the project.
CPOA Executive Committee member Gordon Chunnett has also been interacting with several City representatives and remains firmly of the opinion that the City is doing its best to facilitate the process. He asks that the residents of Constantia allow this process to conclude.
Latest update is that feedback is awaited from the City on the legal contract and thereafter the PP process will commence. The City have agreed to expedite wayleaves (permits) for sections where traditional cable trenching is required. Link Africa/Frogfoot will issue a revised project plan and rollout map shortly.
Craig Carthy (Director Link Africa) will give an overview and update of this project at the upcoming AGM.


Constantia
– Valley of Good Food & Wine

The Constantia Valley has firmly established as one of the premier culinary areas of the Western Cape and boasts a wide range of eateries including luxury dining, wine estates, breakfast/ lunch joints and sports clubs. There are many well established names (too many to mention here) although two relatively new additions are Carne Constantia and Open Door (previously River Café, Constantia Uitsig).
An excellent guide to restaurants in the valley (and elsewhere) is www.Zomato.com which gives a very comprehensive listing of eateries, menus, average pricing, reviews by patrons and much more.
Many would have seen the major renovations in progress at Constantia Nek Restaurant, Cape Town’s oldest restaurant and the setting of many a memorable function.
Following negotiations that spanned six years, the Harbour House Group started working on site in June. With so many wonderful memories attached to The Nek, care is being taken to maintain the aesthetic of the exterior, while incorporating many of the traditional interior elements into the new design – such as the exposed beams, thatch and the impressive thick stone pillars.
The original Candle and Marlin rooms will transform into a La Parada Tapas Bar and Restaurant, with tables extending onto the terrace with its new pergola. The remainder of the interior with expansive views of the Constantia valley and beyond will be home to a Harbour House Restaurant. Here, the menu will remain true to its coastal roots but also focus on typical South African fare, such as venison.
Permission was granted to remove alien vegetation or trees that were potentially harmful to the structure. The parking area will also benefit from the renovation process, with the planting of indigenous vegetation to re-green the space. “Given the age of the structure, the renovation process has revealed unexpected elements that require a lot of additional work,” says David Townsend, Managing Director of Harbour House Design. Despite these challenges, both La Parada and Harbour House are set to open within three months.
The Harbour House Group is thrilled to breathe new life into this beloved location. In keeping with the history of the site, they hope to host many celebrations of life and love at The Nek in future. For regular renovation updates, visit www.constantianek.co.za or find them on Twitter @constantianek or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Constantia-Nek-Restaurant/150353158333393
also: www.laparada.co.za
www.harbourhouse.co.za
www.harbourhousegroup.co.za



New Planning Legislation
– Will the Tribunals be more objective
A public meeting was held on 18 August at the Alphen Centre regarding the recently promulgated Municipal Planning By-law. Mr Ossie Gonsalves, the City’s Southern District Chief Planner, gave rather a technical overview of the new By-law and how it relates to National (SPLUMA) and Provincial (LUPA) planning legislation. The salient features of the draft By-Law were summarized in our October 2014 newsletter and have mostly been adopted. The most important change is the introduction of Planning Tribunals which will deal with planning applications where there are objections. These Tribunals comprise City officials as well as private sector specialists. So planning decisions will no longer be made by politicians although the appeals authority is still the Mayoral Office.
In the limited time available for questions, quite a few members of the public and the CPOA Executive spoke about their frustration with the planning approval process – applications which were approved by Council despite the public/neighbours objecting. The responses from the official and Councillor Ian Iversen were not satisfactory, giving a standard ‘process was followed’ reasoning.
A case in point was the City’s recent approval of the re-zoning application from single residential and consent use to operate a hospital (wellness clinic) at No.40 Constantia Main Rd. At the SPELUM committee interview, the CPOA and Cllr Liz Brunette gave very compelling arguments why this application, which disregards the City’s own policies and encourages commercial creep, should be refused. Certain Councillors then made some spurious statements in favour of the application, a vote was taken, and it was approved.
A member of the CPOA Executive also recently attended a seminar on the new SPLUMA regulations. In her opinion the Act will have far reaching implications on land policy in South Africa and that a strong body of jurisprudence will be needed to stand up to it. An important policy change is that National Government can now intervene in Local Government planning matters. It is anticipated that there will be many legal challenges to the new SPLUMA regulations.



Re-cycling Bombshell – Closure of Ladies Mile Garden Refuse Site imminent

Although anticipated, it came as rather a shock that the Ladies Mile Waste Transfer facility is to close as soon as 30 September 2015 – particularly as the CPOA have been working with the City for at least 4 years in an attempt to find alternative sites.
The Ladies Mile property has been the subject of a protracted Land Restitution Claim. The portion on which the garden waste drop-off is situated was owned by the Kherekar family but their claim has not yet been finalized. Another portion of the site has already been transferred to the Solomon family. They intend to develop the site and the development proposal will be made public at the appropriate time.
The alternative drop-off sites suggested by the City are obviously not convenient for residents of Constantia and surrounds, so the CPOA will continue to engage with the City to try to find a better solution.
The site the CPOA proposed at the Westlake Conservation Centre (Ou Kaapse Weg) has been totally ruled out by the City and we are currently investigating a site in Orpen Road adjacent to the Tokai Forest.
Re-cycling facilities are available at Constantia Village (south west parking area) and Bergvliet High School.
For convenience, we will send out maps of how to get to the sites suggested by the City.


Greenbelt Cycling Routes

The restrictions placed by SANParks on mountain biking in areas affected by the devastating fires in February have resulted in various interested parties getting together to try to find alternative cycling routes in the Constantia greenbelts and elsewhere.
Cllr Liz Brunette has been co-ordinating a joint initiative between representatives of the cycling fraternity including the Pedal Power Association(PPA), City Parks, SANParks, Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts (FOCVGB) and others and several meetings have been held to explore ideas with very positive results.
An initial ‘Greenbelt Cycling Trail’ has been mapped out between Rhodes Drive and Tokai Forest traversing parts of the following trails and roads: De Hel, Southern Cross Drive, Diep River, Klaasenbosch Drive, Bel Ombre, Silverhurst, Spaanschemat, Grootboschkloof, Soetvlei
The interest group welcome feedback on this initiative and Rob Vogel (newly appointed CEO of PPA) was invited to speak at the recent Greenbelts AGM. Some of the points made were:

  • There is an acute awareness of the fact that the greenbelts are widely used by walkers/dog owners and horse riders and that they should not have to compete with cyclists.
  • Popular sections of the greenbelts are specifically avoided – for example the Alphen and Klaasenbosch trails
  • Specific issues such as steep entry points to greenbelts will be addressed and professional ‘trail builders’ will be employed to undertake any physical work. The cycling fraternity is prepared to pay for this.
  • The City are supportive of the proposal in principle and a formal Public Participation Process will be undertaken prior to final approval.
  • It is the intention to draw up a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the City and the cycling fraternity including conduct rules which will be ‘policed’ by the latter. These will include speed restrictions, the use of bicycle bells, who has right of way etc.
  • Allowing cycling will no doubt make the greenbelts safer for all users by virtue of the increased activity
  • The overall attitude of the cycling fraternity is that they feel privileged to be able to use the greenbelts and will therefore do everything to ensure that this concession is not abused

The proposal is expected to be formally approved by the City by the end of the year.



Answers to dealing with Load Shedding

Load shedding is a reality that we are likely to have to live with for the next few years so we may as well accept it and do something to limit the inconvenience:

  • The Rolls Royce solution is to go ‘off the grid’ by installing some form of renewable energy source – the most common being solar power (photovoltaic panels), wind turbine or geothermal. This also requires battery storage, inverters to convert DC to AC current and other control mechanisms. The budget price for a complete system for an average size house is between R 150 000 and R200 000.
  • Battery storage has traditionally been a limitation and the recently announced Tesla Powerwall (Elon Musk) is a neat solution. The Powerwall (deep cell batteries) charges using electricity generated from the grid or from a renewable source and can provide an average size home with up to 10 hours of power. These will only be available in South Africa towards the end of 2016 and are fairly pricy at around R40 000. There are locally developed equivalents.
  • A much simpler solution is to go the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) route which can provide sufficient power to bridge the 2 hour average load shedding period with sufficient capacity to keep your essential items on. A UPS consists of a charger, an inverter and a fast change over switch all in one (approximately 25cm square by 10 cm high) which is connected to a set of deep cycle batteries (slightly larger than the average car battery). The entire system can be located in the corner of a cupboard. Your distribution board will need to be modified slightly to isolate the circuits required to be included on the UPS.

A typical system capable of running a few lights (ideally LED’s), 2 computers, a TV and decoder would cost approximately R8 000 plus installation which will depend on requirements (say R4 000). There are a number of suppliers who are actively marketing these systems.


Critical Biodiversity Areas

Almost ten years ago the CPOA appointed Prof Fabio Todeschini, well known Town Planner, Urban Designer & Heritage Practitioner, to undertake a study of the ‘Tangible Heritage Resources’ in the Constantia-Tokai valley. Following many meetings with local, provincial and national heritage authorities and local representatives, as well as extensive fieldwork, the study proposed the adoption of a cultural landscape approach to heritage resources management in the Constantia-Tokai Valley.
One of the conclusions was that it is not only historic and heritage-worthy buildings that are the subject of this inventory but entire areas of mountain-slopes, agricultural land, green-belts and associated riverine environments that are characteristic of the valley and should be included as heritage resources.
Thanks to local sponsorship, the CPOA have re-appointed Fabio Todeschini to assist them, the City and Province to establish a Constantia-Tokai Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ).
One of the components of the HPOZ is a Biodiversity Plan and there is a push to have it finalised. This is a ‘work in progress’ but one of the priorities has been to clarify the relationship between the Valley’s wetlands , riverines and landscapes given that natural biodiversity features overlap significantly with ‘green heritage’ resources. Todeschini has compiled a well workshopped riverine and wetland Heritage Resources Inventory and our celebrated Greenbelt network features as a Grade IIIA resource.

The city has very recently updated its Draft Bioversity maps and it has been established that all rivers and wetlands do indeed appear on it and at our request the greenbelts were added.


What are permissible
working times for builders?

We quite often receive complaints from people whose neighbours are building and their contractors appear to be working outside of permissible working times. This is regulated in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards which state that:
….. unless authorised by the Municipality,
“no person shall carry on any activity or use or permit to be used in the course of any building, demolition or excavation work any machine, machinery, engine, apparatus, tool or contrivance, in whatever manner it may be propelled, which in the opinion of the local authority may unreasonably disturb or interfere with the amenity of the neighbourhood, during the following periods:
(1) A Sunday and Good Friday, Ascension Day, day of the Vow, Christmas Day and New Years Day
(2) Before 06:00 and after 17:00 on any Saturday, and
(3) Before 06:00 and after 18:00 on any day other than those days in (1)”

While on the subject of building, the regulations regarding the use of public street verges for storing materials or rubble are also quite clear:

“Any person undertaking any erection or demolition work shall not encroach upon any street or public place abutting such site except with the prior written approval of the local authority” (ie the City of Cape Town)

To view the National Building Regulations and Building Standards, go to www.capetown.gov.za and search on “National Building Regulations”.



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