Rosebank rejects development

Rosebank and Mowbray Civic Association chairperson, Jonathan Hobday

Rosebank residents are seeing red after the City of Cape Town approved a plan to develop the Clarendon Mansions site, with more than 30 objections having already been lodged, along with a petition signed by 181 residents.

The application for rezoning and departures for the apartment site, which is situated on the corner of Campground Road and De Villiers Avenue, would result in the existing three-storey block of nine units being doubled in number to 18 units, a second three-storey block of 12 units being built alongside the existing one, an open car-park for 30 cars and a swimming pool.

The residents’ decision to object vigorously to the application was taken at an urgent meeting of several neighbours and is currently supported by the Rosebank and Mowbray Civic Association and the Rosebank Neighbourhood Watch.

Chairperson for the Rosebank and Mowbray Civic Association, Jonathan Hobday, said: “We feel badly let down by the City Council, which is supposed to protect communities from inappropriate and mercenary development. In this instance, the community has been hung out to dry by the City planners who seem fixated with densification at all costs.

“Our view is that there is a need for a much more sensitive approach, including more intensive public participation in the actual planning process. As it is, we are presented with a fait accompli and then the views of the residents are simply ridden over roughshod.”

He added that while the association believed that the site was “ripe for re-development, we believe that better communications with residents would have resulted in a far more appropriate development than the current exercise in cramming as many bodies as possible on to the site”.

“This insensitivity is exemplified by the disastrous proposal to allow a winding, suburban side-street to become a high-traffic access for a car-park. If this is allowed, it will almost certainly create deadly hazards.

“We strongly believe that the plan should be reviewed to take account of the reasonable concerns and sensible suggestions that have come from the community,” Mr Hobday said.

Some of the residents’ concerns around the proposed application for Rosebank included the redevelopment proposals having been changed a number of times, with plenty of the details which are still not clarified.

Residents also believed that several claims made in the application were, “misleading” and were, in some cases, “downright erroneous”.
There are also concerns around the proposed creation of a 30-vehicle car-park accessed via the narrow and winding side-street, De Villiers Avenue, which could end up being “highly problematic” and create hazardous.

The approved plan also give no indication of the occupancy limits of the various units, which is essential to ensuring that the apartments do not become overcrowded and “ghetto-ised”.

Rosebank’s, Milicent Adendorf, said the plans were a clear indication that the City “does not care about surrounding residents”, as approving plans without proper consultation for Ms Adendorf was a “tell-tale sign” of this lack of consideration.

“The first people you approach when you talking about a development on such a large scale are the surrounding neighbours, the people who will have to be faced with this development daily.

“We know it’s on the cards, but we have been told very little about it. Is this the City’s way of telling us to just deal with it?” Ms Adendorf asked.

The convenor of the association’s planning and aesthetics committee, Simon Birch, said: “We are not opposed to the rezoning of these properties to allow for the more efficient use of the land in terms of housing provision provided that such development is appropriate in terms of its design and its cumulative impact both on the site and in relation to its surroundings and provided that a participative process is followed throughout the development process.

“With regard to the current proposals, we strongly encourage a more appropriately-scaled development which addresses the concerns expressed in our comprehensive appeal document.”

The City confirmed that the objections had been included in a report that was tabled, with the City’s Development Management Department.

Mayco member for area north, Suzette Little, explained that the City’s Development Management Department had, in February 2015, received the application to develop the Clarendon Mansions site.

“The application was advertised in November 2015 and 35 objections and one objection petition (with 181 signatories) were received,” she said.

The application, which was approved by Sub-council 16 in May 2017, was for the rezoning of both erven from Single Residential Zone 1 to General Residential Subzone GR2, and the parking departure. The design of the building was to be submitted at a later stage.

After advertising, the applicant withdrew the plans relating to the proposed block of flats on one of the erven and with that the setback departures from the northern common boundary of the erven.

Ms Little confirmed that a right of appeal was issued to the objectors on June 7, 2017, with a closing date of June 28.

“The City’s Development Management Department is now waiting for the applicant to comment on the appeals. Once the comment is received, it will be compiled in a report and together with the application will be forwarded to the appeal authority i.e. General Appeals Committee for a decision,” Ms Little said.