Residents take on proposed development

JOHN HARVEY

More than 30 residents from the Crescent/Claremont Road community as well as the Harfield Pine Association say demolishing two houses in Claremont to put up a block of flats will hurt the neighbourhood.

They continue to object to the application by Sibane Planning and Development, despite the firm making some changes to its bid.

A report on the proposal prepared by Pierre Hoffa, section head for land use management in the southern suburbs, was submitted to the City’s Sub-council 20 on February 3 this year.

Residents argue they are not against the development at 2 and 4 Crescent Avenue, but want it done in a way that fits property limitations in the area.

In its application, Sibane says the block of flats would be a “desirable densification”.

Not so, say residents who argue there are no other buildings of similar scale for several kilometres around.

To Sibane’s statement that the proposed setbacks were similar to those of a normal home or double-storey house and would not impede neighbours’ privacy, the residents said it was “fundamentally flawed” because mature trees and foliage could restrict the view from a double-story home, but this was not the case with a six-storey block of flats.

They are also unhappy that the development will have 28 parking bays.

“With there being 16 apartments, that indicates that a minimum of 32 parking bays should be provided, for the simple reason that most families (which would be the main target audience for this development, due to proximity of schooling) in a more affluent area such as Claremont will have two vehicles per apartment.

“The same traffic congestion issue will take place in Crescent Road as has transpired outside another recently completed development in Greenfield Road.

Crescent Road unfortunately cannot afford this to happen due to traffic currently being experienced from Greenfield School learners being taken to and collected from school,” the residents said in their objections.

The relevant zoning regulation is another source of contention.

“Firstly, the application was not filed under the new zoning scheme, therefore the statement that, ‘When compared to the new Cape Town zoning scheme regulations, it is clear the proposed departures impact less on the neighbours with respect to sunlight, views and invasion of privacy than what could be built in the property as of right,’ has no right being mentioned in the context of this application.

“Secondly, the municipality put the building regulations in place with respect to setbacks for a reason – in order to protect the surrounding community to a certain degree,” the residents said.

However, Sibane director Louise Seaward said the development mirrored current proposals along Main Road and the City had approved several developments very similar in structure in recent months.

“The development is also in line with the City’s recently approved spatial development framework, district framework and the densification policy for the area.

“The proposal is considered suitable, incremental densification along a main structuring road in the city,” she said.

“The property is already zoned general residential, which allows for a seven-storey block of flats as of right. In terms of the new zoning scheme regulations, the developer could build hard up on the common boundaries to a height of 15m with no permission from the neighbours at all.

“However, the developer has opted to set the building back from the boundaries to reduce the impact on the adjacent property owners.”

The amendments made to the initial objections included the overall height of the building being reduced from 22m to 18m, the proposed roof garden being omitted the number of units being reduced from 18 to 16 and the ground storey being made 0.6m above mean ground level as opposed to the previous 1m.

Ms Seaward said the number of parking bays complied with City requirements.

“It is noted that many of the objectors to the original scheme live over 50m away from the proposed development and would be in no way affected by the proposal,” she said.

In its reasons for recommending the proposal, the City’s land use management department said the development was of an appropriate scale and form that related to the surrounding urban fabric, it would not have a negative impact on the character of neighbouring properties and the concerns raised by the residents had been addressed. It added that the development complied with the City’s densification policy.

The matter will again be considered at a Sub-council meeting on Wednesday April 20.