Scouts object to Claremont cell mast plan

An artist’s impression of the mast.

The 1st Claremont Scouts are objecting to a proposed 30m cell mast on their leased property, citing health, impact and false-advertising concerns.

The public has until Friday October 20 to comment on the City’s plans to lease a portion of land on 16 Herschel Close, Claremont, to Vodacom for the mast.

The 1st Claremont Scouts have been meeting at the site since 1916 and are currently in year two of a renewed 10-year lease. Group leader Ian Webb said they were shocked when they found out about the City’s plans last week.

In an objection letter, the scouts claim the information presented in the City’s advertisement is misleading

“It is noted that the plans attached to the advertisement do not correspond with the ‘artist’s impression’, with regards to the configuration and height of the antennae. Furthermore, in the ‘artist’s impression’, the extent of the base station is clearly shown as being far smaller than what is reflected on the plans.”

Mr Webb said there was also no reference to the existing use of the land by the scouts which he said would be impacted by the mast.

“The proposed telecommunication base station occupies a substantial area of land that will significantly disrupt the existing use of the scout property. Scouting is primarily an outdoor focused activity, and the entire property that is leased to the 1st Claremont Scout Group is actively and intensely used on a regular basis. That is, for regular scout meetings on Thursdays, cub meetings on Fridays and meerkat meetings on Saturdays, as well being used on other days of the week, especially weekends, for a multitude of scouting activities,” he said.

At 30m high, Mr Webb said the mast would be far higher than most masts in residential areas which vary between 15m and 25m

“The visual impact of the proposed mast is offensive, aesthetically unpleasant, and completely unacceptable and inappropriate in a suburban residential environment. There is no visual mitigation, and the proposal will have a severe negative impact on the character of the surrounding area. Lowering the height or changing the design will not meaningfully mitigate the impact. The surrounding area has numerous tall blocks of flats, especially to the east and north-east, and in such areas it is unnecessary to erect tall masts.”

The scouts say the proposal will also reduce available parking and threaten the heritage value of the 83-year-old scout hall.

Mr Webb said they had more than 100 members aged from 5 to 17 as well as adult volunteer leaders.

Mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos said the proposed mast would be 30m high with an 85m² footprint. He said an email notice was forwarded to the scouts during the public participation process.

“Alternative sites were considered by the applicant. However, these were not ideal. After the public comment period, a report for the lease will be submitted to sub-council for their comment and thereafter to the decision-making authority together with comments/objections for consideration/approval. Once the lease process has concluded, another process will commence via the spatial planning department regarding the zoning. During this process, the residents and scouts will have another opportunity to comment,” said Mr Vos.

Zaahir Adams, from the Claremont Beneficiary Trust, said they planned to object as they had not been informed by the City.

“We envisage that it will curtail future development plans which would be unacceptable for the land claim beneficiaries,” he said.

Submit your comments online at www.capetown.gov.za or send written submissions to: Property Management PO Box 455, Cape Town 8000 or email cellmast.objection@capetown.gov.za