7-storey stumbling block

An artists impression on what the new apartment block in Scholtz Road, Green Point, will look like. Residents say it is not suitable to the residential area.

Green Point residents are worried their way of life is threatened by a growing number of developments, the latest being a seven-storey block of high-end flats in Scholtz Road.

Some fear the surburb risks losing its cosmopolitan feel and that soon only the super rich will be able to live in the area.

To counter this, the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (GPRRA) says it wants pressure put on developers to include a mix of affordable housing in future projects.

Developer company Blok applied for departures for a block of flats in the small road. Residents say Blok has already sold 23 flats even though current departures only allow for 16. The proposed building comprises a ground parking floor for 32 parking bays and six floors for flats.

An objection letter from residents called the proposal “over-scaled” and “an eyesore”, saying it would need “a very large number of approvals”.

Residents say they have stood united to fight the development. Speaking on their behalf, Allan Serchuk, said the building was out of character with the residential area.

“They are putting up a huge seven-storey building, trying to make use of every inch that they can. They are also applying for departures.”

Residents feel that the City has ignored their concerns, as the developer has already sold 23 units.

”That means something is going on there,” Mr Serchuk said.

“They ( the City) don’t take into consideration the people of the area. We are passionate about this because we live here. All the buildings in the area are generally low-rise,” said Mr Serchuk, adding that infrastructure in the area could not support a large development.

In an objection letter, the GPRRA said the City appeared to have an attitude that “almost any development and densification is desirable” and developers are “eager to make profit from the area and have no interest in the quality of the area”.

The association said it realised that “times change” and it was not opposed to limited and controlled development provided the area’s character and property owners’ rights weren’t violated.

The association said it believed developers of luxury blocks of flats should be required to make a contribution to affordable housing on the Atlantic Seaboard.

GPRRA chairwoman Jenny McQueen said some sections of new residential developments in the area should be set aside to be more affordable, which was in line with property trends in places like London.

“Unfortunately the City has a densification policy so they do tend to side with the developers and ignore the ratepayers,” she said.

Byron Herbert, of the Camps Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association (CBRRA), agrees that property owners and developers are favoured over residents. He said the only way to get the City to listen was to take it to court.

He said that the CBRRA had taken the City to the High Court 15 times over similar issues in recent years.

“I’m not sure if council do it on purpose or if they just don’t know enough (about the issue). Once applications are approved then they side with the owner and there is always a huge battle.”

Blok responded to the residents’ concerns by saying they recently sent two senior representatives as well as a town planner for the development to a ratepayers’ meeting to answer questions and explain that they are advertising for certain departures.

“I am led to believe those minutes are freely available, and so I encourage you to ask for them in order to understand what was discussed at the meeting as all of the below was covered in depth,” said Lior van Embden, who is in charge of sales and marketing at Blok.

“There are minor departures we have requested, none of which represent tradable space. The remainder of the building is fully compliant with the City of Cape Town’s zoning and planning laws.”

The City of Cape Town had not responded to an emailed media query by the time this edition went to print despite being given more than a week to do so.