10-storey block slammed

The existing building will be demolished to make way for the new development.

Pine Mews residents have slammed a proposed 10-storey development saying it will add to traffic, encroach on them and clash with the area’s Garden City concept.

The proposed block for Erf 3645, Bowlers Way, Pinelands, will have a total of 340 flats – 154 of them will be retirement units in a wing of the U-shaped building.

There will also be a restaurant, of approximately 390m², and 467 standard-size parking bays.

The current building will be demolished and the main entrance would be along Bowlers Way.

The flats will range from 37m² to 88m², while the communal facilities will include a pool and gym on the second-floor courtyard.

The restaurant will be along Gardener Way, while the retirement section will be developed along the northern arm of the building.

It will provide a full range of on-site facilities including frail care, recreational facilities, lounge and dining room.

While residents say they understand the need for housing, they are against the scale of the development and do not agree with a traffic impact assessment, saying they are already battling traffic along Forest Drive.

Pine Mews body corporate trustee Olwen Dale said all the residents in the complex had objected to the development.

Ms Dale said the development would lead to increased traffic, hinder access to their property, be a threat to the safety of pedestrian school children and cause congestion along Howard Drive and Gardeners Way.

Ms Dale, who moved into Pine Mews in 2012, said a loss of light, views and privacy and added noise would hurt their property values.

“The proposed 10-storey building is right next door to Pine Mews. Because the proposed development is north-facing and we are behind it. The 10-storey building will block out our light, our view of the sky and of the mountain, thereby decreasing the value of our properties. We believe also that the noise level will increase to unacceptable levels,” she said.

Hanna Thomas has been living in Pinelands for 40 years and said it was sad to see developers turning a quiet, leafy suburb like Pinelands into a densely populated area.

“Originally it was developed as a Garden City which allowed people to live in a fairly small town environment. It still has an old world charm which young and old find appealing. That is exactly the reason why ‘Pinelanders’ seem to want to stay and retire in Pinelands.”

She said getting in and out of Pinelands had become a nightmare.

“To now put up a high-rise building amidst townhouses, a retirement place and a school can only add to the traffic problems. Bowlers Way has actually become a one-way street as big lorries and vans cannot turn at the end.

“It is also dangerous for seniors who love taking walks around the area and for schoolchildren being fetched and dropped from school,” said Ms Thomas.

Chris Crous said while he was in favour of making people’s lives easier by creating opportunities for people to move closer to town and their workplace, he said the development and other proposed developments in the area lacked foresight.

“Pinelands lies between the N1 and N2 highways and have only one road linking the two – Forest Drive. Another ‘ring road’ is Jan Smuts Drive, at the bottom end of Pinelands, linking Athlone to Ndabeni. Those who live here can testify to the already heavy traffic volumes through the suburb, especially early morning and after 4pm, when the 6 000 Old Mutual workers start going home,” he said.

Mr Crous said the development at the old Conradie Hospital site would add another 1 0000 people, Old Mutual’s small golf course extension on Forest Drive another 3 000 and the planned development on the Ramsay Media site could lead to about 15 000 more people added to Pinelands.

“That is why we are complaining. No foresight. Just adding to more serious traffic problems, more people, less space, not to mention the impact the shadow of a high rise over Pine Mews will have on future property prices,” he said.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said a total of 300 objections had been received.

“The objections relate to the proposed building height, traffic congestion and safety implications, the proposal not being in keeping with the Garden City concept, the lack of amenities that will cause negative impact, views and light that will be negatively impacted, noise and dust that will be generated,” she said.

Speaking on the impact of traffic, Ms Nieuwoudt said the development would have medium impact at key intersections.

“The report suggests adjusting signal timings and phasing at Forest Drive; Howard Drive and Avonduur Road signalised intersections to an acceptable state; certain interventions, such as a convex mirror and lighting to create a safe driving environment,” she said.

Ms Nieuwoudt said the application was currently being assessed.

Developer Tommy Brummer said the area was controlled by a set of zoning regulations which were adopted by the former Pinelands Municipality.

“When the Municipal Planning By-law and its related Development Management Scheme (DMS) were adopted by the City in 2015 it decided to carry the original zoning conditions forward into the new DMS.

“These conditions include the rights to build a 10-storey building on the site with a floor factor (bulk) of 2.5 and certain parking requirements for special business purposes or flats,” he said.

Mr Brummer said they believed that a development catering for housing of young families and old people was more appropriate than a commercial building on the property.

Ms Dale said that while they were pleased the units had been reduced from 370 to 340, she said there were too many factors to consider.

She said there had not been any other place in Pinelands where a 10-storey building was next to a residential property.