Proposed Housing Developments on Soetvlei & Firgrove May 2012

Update: Firgrove & Soetvlei Fields — 24 May 2012 

This report is posted by the Chairperson of the Steering Committee for the Soetvlei and Firgrove fields in Constantia Hills.

For the past three years, members of the Steering Committee have been active custodians of these fields, protecting their place in the Valley and ensuring that any development plans are appropriate and viable.  The Steering Committee is made up of volunteers from suburbs and civic groups across the Valley and residents are welcome to join (info).

Erf 3331 – Soetvlei land

Currently, erf 3331 on Soetvlei is physically in three portions:

  • the eastern portion is leased by the American International School
  • the middle portion is surrounded by a vibracrete wall and includes a field, an unused house and overgrown athletics track
  • the western portion is public open space

Negotiations are well under way between the School and the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works to extend the School’s lease to include the remainder of the erf.
Once the lease is extended to include the entire erf, we understand that the School’s intention is to reinstate the athletics track and upgrade the land. Given the extensive renovations the School has already made on the portion it currently leases and its proven appreciation for the vernacular architecture, we expect that the School’s development of the entire erf would enhance its existing presence and be a further asset in the area.

Erf 3035 – Firgrove land

The Commission

The “Regional Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights” (hereafter referred to as the Commission) ensures that claimants’ needs are met through the restitution process in the Western Cape.   We are pleased to note that Mr Michael Worsnip’s appointment as Executive Manager of the Commission has been a positive influence in the restitution process.

The Land

Last year, the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works granted in-principle approval for the Firgrove land to be used for restitution purposes.  This approval is in terms of Cabinet Resolution 255/2010.

This means that the Department has approved making the land available, but first it wants to know (1) how the land would be developed, (2) how claimants would benefit from the development of the land and (3) alternative scenarios for the development of the land.

To determine answers for these three questions, specialists are conducting a feasibility study right now and they are due to present their final report to the Department in the third quarter of this year.

This is good news because – before it releases the land – the Department of Public Works is taking care to ensure that claimants’ needs will be met and that the land will be developed according to the City’s spatial development frameworks, zoning schemes, regulations and policies.  It may be many months until the land undergoes a physical change, but the process is under way.

We keep regular contact with the Department, the Commission, leaders in the Claimant community and the specialists conducting the feasibility study, and we will call a meeting of the Steering Group when the final report is ready for discussion later this year.  Meanwhile, if any resident would like to have an informal chat or ask any questions, click here.

Later down the track, as someone who is interested or would be affected by any changes to the land, residents will have the opportunity to join in a ‘Public Participation Process’ and express their views before plans are ultimately finalised.

A note of thanks to Dr Steve Townsend (planning, heritage) and Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (legal) who continue to support our efforts with commentary and advice.

Questions, comments and suggestions are always useful and welcome.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Keep an eye on this website for notices calling for ‘Public Participation’. Then ensure that you are registered as an interested and affected party (IAP) in the Public Participation Process. The IAPs play a crucial role in adding strength to the messages presented by professional representatives.
  • If you have any ideas/suggestions or if you know of somebody who has keen knowledge in this area – pleaseemail 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.

Posted by Ann Coltham, Chairperson – Constantia Land Steering Committee Working with Alan Mountain and Councillor Liz Brunette Email address: info@constantiahills.org.za 

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