Vredehoek residents oppose development plans

Residents are opposing building plans for this property on Clifford Avenue.

Homeowners on Clifford Avenue, Highlands Estate, Vredehoek, are opposed to a proposal to build three dwellings with swimming pools at 26 Clifford Avenue.

According to the residents’ spokesperson, Joanne Grace, if the development on ERF 1291 is approved, it will set an unwelcome precedent for Single Residential Zoning 1 (SR1) in Highlands Estate and will means that every erf can be developed in a way that allows for the construction of sectional title flats.

Ms Grace said the first objection process took place at the end of 2020 with affected parties able to submit their individual objections.

Twenty two individual objections were received from Highlands Estate and surrounds and the council prepared a report with its recommendations. This report was circulated to objectors prior to the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) hearing on July 6 where the report was tabled.

“As objectors we were able to appear before the MPT and Robert Grace spoke on our behalf. The outcome of this process was that the council’s recommendations were upheld and whilst there were some positive outcomes of this (i.e. enforcing the lateral boundary building lines) it doesn’t go far enough to prevent the development, and future ones like it, from going ahead,” said Ms Grace.

The next and final round of objection is the Planning Appeals Advisory Panel (PAAP) and the residents have hired architect, statutory planner and conservationist, Dr Stephen Townsend, to contend on their behalf.

“The title restrictions pertaining to each of the then eighty-one properties (most of which are between 650 and 900sqm) in the Highlands Estate are simply described: only one dwelling house (with “such outbuildings as are ordinarily required”) is permitted; no more than 50% of property may be built on; and relatively onerous setbacks from street and side boundaries are prescribed. These restrictions, binding on every property owner, seem to be easily understood; as are their effects on the configuration of the resultant townscape,” says Dr Townsend in an 11-page document concerning the Application for the Deletion of Title Deed Restrictions and for Departures from the Municipal Planning By-Law for Erf 1291.

Dr Townsend said the removal and amendment of the parallel controls provided by the title deed restrictions will be damaging to the character of the area, in particular to the streetscape.

“It is also clear that the members of the MPT did not take into account the actual character of the area, particularly when viewed from the street. As a consequence, it is clear that the tribunal did not take all of the necessary factors into account when making its decision and, further, it took other irrelevant, even patently mistaken, factors into account. As a consequence, the tribunal’s decision is irrational and must be reversed; and this appeal should be upheld and the mayor should refuse the application.”

Andrew Pratt Town Planning said the proposed development is in accordance with the City’s sensitive densification policy. There will be no parking departures, and the structure will be read as a house in keeping with the surrounding region rather than a block of flats.

“Our intention is to improve the subject property with a single dwelling house (containing a main dwelling, second dwelling and third dwelling) as permitted by the Municipal Planning By-Law on Single Residential (SR1) zoned properties.”

Mr Pratt said they proposed to remove restrictive conditions set out in the property’s title deed. These related to “building lines, built-upon area, number of dwellings, cost of the building to be erected on the property and condition which compels the owner to lodge the plans, elevations and specification with, and have them approved by, the Transferor Company or its successors in title before tenders are called for”.

“We were later advised by the City to amend conditions relating to number of dwellings as well as built-upon area and not delete them. We agreed to this thus limiting the built-upon area to 65% and the number of dwellings to three regardless of any future amendments to the by-law,” Mr Pratt said.

On August 6, the City of Cape Town advised that both applicant and objectors have appealed aspects of the MPT decision and have 21 days to comment on the appeals.

The appeal application in this matter is still being processed, according to Marian Nieuwoudt, the City’s Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and transportation.

“Once due process has been completed, the appeal report will be sent to the City’s Planning Appeals Advisory Panel for consideration and referred to the Executive Mayor as the Appeal Authority for a decision in line with the City’s Municipal Planning By-law. The outcome of the appeal will be advised upon once the above process has been concluded,” Ms Nieuwoudt said.