Ranleigh Park in Kenilworth might have raised a few eyebrows over the years, but the owners are ready to start a new chapter in 2017, proposing to build a five-storey “secure development”.
In recent years, a handful of residents became concerned with the number of families moving into the building, the general state of the building and the unclear plans for the future of the site.
Ranleigh Park, situated at 82 Harfield Road, is owned by Rawson Developers and was destined to be demolished in order for the site to be redeveloped.
The building is believed to have stood vacant for nearly two years pending a court case, with very little activity taking place at the block of flats.
Among the concerned residents is Shirley Andrews, who said the building deteriorated very quickly, especially with the large number of people living inside the building rapidly increasing.
“The amount of dirt coming out of his building increased, the general appearance seems to be taking a knock as well and this has definitely become a health hazard,” she said.
According to Ms Andrews, there is a constant leak streaming from the site, which has caused a foul smelling pool outside the entrance to the building. Added to this, a pile of wood was left outside and she is convinced this would become a “haven for rodents”.
“The owners of the building must have certain criteria that is to be followed when accepting new tenants. It just seems like these owners are accepting more families without thinking of the impact it might have on the surrounding neighbourhood,” Ms Andrews said.
A morning jog takes Matthew Johansen pass the Ranleigh Park flats and in his own words: “This building is not a pretty sight at times”.
According to Mr Johansen, the increase in the number of people living inside the flats has certainly impacted the community, especially in terms of their health, with plenty of health hazards spotted in and around the building.
“One morning I saw a woman basically dumping a bag filled with soiled nappies on the sidewalk. When I asked why she did that, she said they had no refuse bins and today was collection day. On my way back, there were a few more bags added to this one bag. It’s filthy and who knows what types of diseases are in that pile?” Mr Johansen asked.
Plans are now in place to introduce a new secure development, with dwellings ranging from duplexes to single bedroom apartments, plenty green spaces and parking inside the grounds.
Despite concerns, the owners, Rawson Developers, confirmed that “no formal complaints have been received”, but added that they “received abusive telephone calls from select individuals”.
Rawson Developers’ managing director Carl Nortje, said: “We are not sure what it is that is upsetting locals. Rawson Developers has followed the correct processes strictly to the letter of the law.”
He added that those occupying the nine duplexes were set to move after the December builders’ holiday when construction would resume.
This measure, he said, was put in place to provide security and to ensure that a dormant asset was serving the needs of “at least some people”.
“Designated channels exist for all reasonable comments negative or otherwise and we are participants in this ongoing process as the developers,” Mr Nortje said.
Ranleigh Park, comprising a three-storey block of facebrick flats, a large parking area as well as duplexes and a series of interconnected buildings, was built in the 1960s, but was only purchased by Rawson about three years ago.
According to Rawson Developers, the delays they were facing were the result of concerns over original title deed restrictions dating 120 years back to year 1898.
“It is worth noting that these restrictions were already transgressed over 30 years ago by the original developers of Ranleigh Park in the 1960s and even prior building activity. There was even a restriction on the total value of construction on the site – set at 1500 pounds,” Mr Nortje added.
Rawson Developers applied to the Western Cape High Court for title deed relief, which took nearly two years, “During which time Rawson Developers carried a heavy financial burden”, Mr Nortje said.
Despite concerns, residents confirmed that no complaints had been lodged with the City of Cape Town.
The City’s Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe, confirmed that a permit to demolish the existing building on the property had been approved on September 12 2014 and then renewed on September 9 2016. While the building plans for the construction of a new block of flats had been approved on May 7 last year, these had not yet been built.
According to Mr Van der Merwe, amended building plans were submitted by the developers on Wednesday November 23, this year.
The fundamental changes between the approved scheme and the amended plans currently being considered by the City were minor cosmetic changes to enhance the appearance of the building. And while the footprint of the building and floors remains the same, the number of units has reduced from 117 to 90. This was made possible by reducing the number of small apartments and including the number of two-bedroom units. The parking deck has also been scaled back
He added that the developers were following the correct procedures, saying: “No action is required against the owners. The developer is in the process of removing all the stored building material from the site at present. No action is required from a Planning and Building Management point of view.”
He also called on residents to report matters via the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089, in order for the City to have a record and attend to each request.
Before confirming that construction work was set to go ahead next year, Mr Nortje said: “We believe that our plans will serve to benefit the whole area.”