Concerns about plans for 4-storeydevelopment

An architects impression of the proposed development at the corner of Alma Road.

Rosebank residents are objecting to a four-storey block of flats planned for the area, saying it is out of scale and threatens the heritage-rich character of the neighbourhood.

Proventus Property met with Rosebank residents last Wednesday to address some of their concerns about the development planned for the corner of Alma Road and Liesbeek Parkway.

Three houses at 2 York Lane, 27 Alma Road and 29 Alma Road would need to be demolished to accommodate it.

The block would have 39 parking bays on the ground floor and 30 flats spread across the first, second and third floors.

The site is next to the Liesbeek River, Rondebosch Common and Rustenberg Girls’ High. And several houses in Alma Road are of the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods.

According to Proventus’s heritage impact assessment submitted to Heritage Western Cape, the design of the block would be “in keeping” with the “grain and texture” of the proposed heritage-protected area of Lower Rosebank.

The assessment notes there is another four-storey building in the area – an old-age home on the other side of Alma Road.

Zane de Decker, owner of Proventus Property, said they wanted to build upmarket flats in a well-located area near transport and economic opportunities.

“We have worked really hard to create a scheme that fits well into the area, taking the residents’ concerns into account.

“We understand that new developments are a challenge for some residents and have therefore sought to engage widely with those affected in the Rosebank community.

“Following a first round of feedback, we have made extensive design changes to address those concerns we could, whilst still responding to the City’s stated policies and planning requirements.

“These new plans were shared at a public meeting we held last week Wednesday,” said Mr De Decker.

But Simon Birch, chairman of the Rosebank and Mowbray Planning and Aesthetics Committee, said there had been more than 200 objections to the proposal, most saying it was ridiculously out of scale and an unsightly imposition on a highly visible, sensitive site.

“The location (of the development) fronts onto the Liesbeek Greenbelt and is regarded as a gateway to the suburb of Rosebank, a proposed heritage-protection overlay zone, owing to its a heritage-rich urban fabric,” said Mr Birch.

Heritage Western Cape rejected demolition and consolidation applications in an earlier development proposal from Proventus.

The firm’s new proposal still has to be presented to affected and interested parties.

Mr Birch said that, in some respects, it appeared to be an improvement on the previous one, although he had concerns about the overall bulk and height of the development.

Mr Birch also said residents felt the City of Cape Town, which will also need to consider the application, favoured a heavy-handed, one size fits all densification policy.

Rosebank and Mowbray Civic Association chairman Jonathan Hobday said they feared the impact of the proposed development on the neighbourhood’s suburban feel as well as its infrastructure.

“The civic is concerned in general about over-densification in various parts of the suburb. Insensitive developments create the serious risk of undue strain on basic amenities and of traffic congestion, not to mention damage to the residential character of the neighbourhood.

“We would hope that, in the case of the Alma Road proposals, a more appropriate proposal will emerge that takes sincere account of these local concerns.”

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said a planning application for the proposed block had been submitted and

was for consolidation of three properties, and departures relating to building lines along the Alma Road street boundary and the western common boundary with Liesbeek Parkway.

“No rezoning is required,” he said.

A decision on the planning application would be taken, he said, once the parallel heritage approval process had been finalised.

Residents can submit comments or objections in writing before September 7. For details, call Develop Management at 021 710 8203.

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