Proposed Housing Developments on Soetvlei & Firgrove Feb 2010

Update: Firgrove & Soetvlei Fields

The Environmental Partnership distributed a notice in July 2009 to Interested and Affected Parties, stating that the Environmental Impact Assessment is ‘on hold’. This means that the consultants would not be continuing with the project until further instructions were received from their client, the Provincial Government.

The Mail & Guardian newspaper published a report in February 2010, stating that the Provincial Government had thwarted earlier attempts by the National Government to transfer 1400ha (including the Firgrove and Soetvlei erven) to the National Government’s portfolio. Therefore, the Provincial Department for Transport and Public Works remains the owner and key decision-maker about the future use of the land.

A steering group of local residents continues to engage with stakeholders and interested parties regarding the Firgrove and Soetvlei erven. As the process develops, the steering group will supply updated information for this website.

Your comments, suggestions and questions are always welcome.

From Liz Brunette and Ann Coltham

On behalf of the Steering Group, Firgrove and Soetvlei Proposals

email address: info@constantiahills.org.za


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Original Proposal

The provincial government has presented proposals to the public for low-income housing to be developed on two fields near Uitsig Wine Estate shown in the Google Map above. These are erven 3035 and 3331 and more information can be found on the website of the government’s consultants The Environmental Partnership. The public is given the opportunity to comment on these proposals.

Firgrove & Soetvlei fields – Update 12 May 2009

A steering group comprising residents and professionals continues to monitor the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process that was initiated by the Provincial Government in September last year.

This is the current status:

Initial Proposals

The Environmental Partnership (EP), the consultants appointed by the provincial government to conduct the EIA process, have captured all the comments that they received by 10 December and devised responses where possible. The comments and responses will be included in a draft report that will be available some time in the coming months for public viewing and comment.
EP have also developed terms of reference for specialised studies and are currently appointing specialists to conduct these studies. We communicate with them regularly and as soon as we know when and where the draft report will be available, residents will be notified by email, the local media and mail-drops where possible, so that all interested parties can participate in the process.
We continue to benefit from the services of a professional planner, Dr Steve Townsend, who was appointed by the Constantia Hills Residents Association, Tokai Ratepayers Association, Constantia Property Owners Association on behalf of residents in the Valley.
We also acknowledge the legal advice offered by Edward, Nathan, Sonnenbergs (ENS) and their ongoing interest in this matter.

Alternative Solution

While the EIA process continues, an initiative is under way to proactively develop a viable and sustainable solution for the Firgrove and Soetvlei fields, which we can present as an alternative that has the support of residents in the Constantia-Tokai valley. We are doing this because – no matter which political party is in power – these fields remain vulnerable and the uncertainty about their future affects us all. So, in seeking a solution, we debate vigorously, we keep in touch with the new Provincial Government and the City to discover their intentions for the land, and we consult with professionals to determine the immediate and long-term implications of our thinking.
At this stage, our expenses are covered, but once our vision has been rigorously tested, we will communicate the proposal and strategy to residents, and further funding will be required.

PREVIOUS NOTICES
PUBLIC COMMENT – 10 DECEMBER 2008

Residents are urged to raise any enquiries about the developments on/before 10 December.
Your enquiries could be in the form of questions, asking the proponents if they have considered a particular matter.
It appears that the proponents are intending to do only a BASIC ASSESSMENT before building. However, the more you escalate the issues, the more pressed they will be to do a full ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT.

Your enquiry should go to junaid@enviropart.co.za, with a copy to info@constantiahills.org.za

If you prefer, your PRINTED comment can be placed in the postboxes of 11 Rodgers Ave or 23 Lindeshof Road, Constantia Hills, and these will be taken to the Environmental Partnership on 10 December for you.

PROGRESS WITH STEVE TOWNSEND

We’ve put together a primary steering group to manage this process on behalf of residents living in Constantia, Constantia Hills and Tokai residents. The steering group group is Joan Heming (CPOA), Terry Hodson (CPOA), Liz Brunette (CHRA), Keith Hamilton (CHRA) and Ann Coltham (CHNW).

These are the key issues that we are addressing:

  1. The limited public participation process, including the arrangements for the public meeting, and the lack of consultation with the community
  2. The development proposals are inappropriate given the location of the sites
  3. The alternatives being considered in the basic assessments for each site are inappropriate and more appropriate forms are not being evaluated
  4. The viability and sustainability of the development proposals – lack of public transport, lack of employment opportunities given that the sites are isolated from any industrial and commercial opportunities, visual impact, and socio-economic impacts
  5. A Traffic Impact Assessment, Economic Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment, and Visual Impact Assessment have not been identified as requirements

CO-ORDINATION

A broad steering group has been formed to address these housing proposals and co-ordinate the activities of various constituencies in the Valley. This group comprises representatives from Uitsig Close, Nova Constantia, Constantia Hills Constantia and Tokai.

Residents from Uitsig Close have appointed a firm of attorneys and a planning consultant, Tommy Brummer, who works extensively in Constantia.

These strategies have been implemented by the steering group:

Publicity – keep the matter alive in the media to create a groundswell of support that results in the project not being viable
Political – build lobbying opportunities to slow the process down until the political will goes away
Environmental – approach environmental groups for commitment and support
Legal – ensure that the EIA process adheres to the statutory requirements
…and the ground swell – which is where you come in. Do your bit to fill the ‘public gallery’. Register as an interested and affected party, and send a letter to ask the consultants to ask a question.

HOW TO REGISTER AS AN INTERESTED & AFFECTED PARTY (IAP)

Copy the template below onto an email, then enter your details in the areas indicated, and email this to : junaid@enviropart.co.za

Subject: Registration as an Interested and Affected Party (IAP)

Dear Mr Moosajee,

I hereby apply to register as an Interested and Affected Party (IAP) in connection with Sweet Valley E/12/2/3/1-A5/98-0420/08
Firgrove E/12/2/3/1-A5/98-0421/08
Please be so kind as to confirm that you have registered me.

Regards,

[Your name here] [Your street address here] [Your phone number here] [Your e-mail address here]

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Ensure that you are registered as an interested and affected party (IAP). Even if you signed a register at the public meeting, send an email.

The IAPs play a crucial role in adding strength to the messages presented by professional representatives. The IAPs ‘fill the public gallery’ and show how serious the issues are, therefore IAPs should conduct themselves with an emotional maturity that deserves respect. Outbursts and slanderous comments only serve to ruin our efforts here.

If you have any ideas/suggestions or you know of somebody who has keen knowledge in this area – please email Ann Coltham with your info. We have professionals in the arena, but at the same time, your info would always add to the knowledge-base, and that’s what we’re looking for.

BANKING DETAILS

FUND-RAISING

After a fantastic response, more than enough funds have been raised to cover the costs of the initial phase of discovery that ends on 10 December. As the project evolves, we will continue to keep tight control of finances, make the records available and request more funds as needs be.

BANKING DETAILS OF CHRA

  • R10 000 is required to secure the services of Dr Steve Townsend.
  • Contributions of R100 would be appreciated.
  • Payment can be via cash, EFT or cheque.
  • Cheques must be made out to ‘Constantia Hills Residents Association’ and delivered to 5 Rodgers Ave or 23 Lindeshof Road.

EFT banking details are:

Bank name: Standard
Branch number: 025309
Account name: Constantia Hills Residents Association
Account number: 076171612
Account type: Savings
Reference: CVT [Surname] [Street address] (eg. CVT Smith 53 Soetvlei)

The Constantia Valley Trust (CVT) was created some years ago to fund strategic projects in the Constantia Valley, and has agreed to manage the financial contributions and pay the professional planner.

The CVT trustees are Neil McCarthy, Alec Pienaar, Mike Brain and Joan Heming. Your financial contribution will be transferred into the CVT bank account.

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