Development the main talking point at AGM

MATTHEW HIRSCH

Development was one of the hot topics at the Sea Point, Fresnaye and Bantry Bay (SFB) Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association annual general meeting on Wednesday April 13.

SFB chairperson David Polovin said while change was a constant, they were always scrutinising building plans and taking into account aspects such as heritage.

The guest speaker at the meeting was the director of spatial planning and urban design at the City of Cape Town, Catherine Stone, who spoke about urban development on the Atlantic Seaboard.

Ms Stone, who is also a Sea Point resident, said: “The pace of change in Sea Point has been exciting and in the last few years accelerating and some might say aggressive. One of the things I love about living in Sea Point is the diversity. We have a relationship with our neighbours and we are intimitely close to one another.”

Another reason Ms Stone said she loved Sea Point for was its convenience.

“You don’t actually need a car and we’ve been considering whether the family should drop the car. You can use the bus, and we can walk our children to the school, library and promenade.

“The whole city comes to hang out in Sea Point. These are qualities we would like for the whole city and so it has become our model.”

Ms Stone said it was civic activism that has pushed the suburb on this positive path. “It has made this a safe place for families to live and you can see this in the demand for schools and the shift in demographics. Sea Point is doing exceptionally well and it is good for the city that people want to live here.”

She said this demand to live in the area was good for the city and the micro economy as well. One of the clearest signs of this, says Ms Stone, is the rejuvenation of Main Road, with a number of businesses.

She added that there was a thriving property economy and this despite the slump in the economy. “This speaks to the demand to live in Cape Town and that is a testament to what it offers.”

She said she was aware of some of the concerns about the pace of development. “Change is inevitable but how the change is driven becomes important. It is about relationships and active engagement.”

However, she said there were two important things to do when it came to development on the Atlantic Seaboard. “We have to move towards public transport and we need to make sure the area doesn’t become an exclusive place to live in. I know there is some alarm at the pace of development. We need to think collectively (about these issues) as cities and suburbs go through cycles,” she said.