Building woes

Arthur Clarke,

The Norval Foundation Art Gallery, Tokai

I am the retired chairperson of the Tokai Residents’ Association, now writing in my personal capacity. When this art gallery project was in the pipeline, the TRA, Heritage Foundation, Constantia Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association all had inputs (and to be frank, misgivings) (“Grand gallery to open,” Bulletin April 19).

At the time of these discussions – several years ago – the “trade off” was that some six houses or so would also be built on the hillside behind this development to help amortise costs and as part of the “package deal”.

After all our inputs and documentation, nothing further happened for about two years. Then, with only several days notice, the council emailed me a lengthy document to scrutinise – I think some 120 pages – and I was told to be at the Civic Centre within the next couple of days if I wanted to comment. Time limit: 5 minutes or so.

Clearly a fatuous exercise! My experience with the City Council, and I have heard this from other sources too, is that it pays scant attention to ratepayers’/individual’s responses, and goes all out to densify areas and maximise rates and taxes. While perhaps understandable, I am mindful of Churchill’s comment: “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”

* The City of Cape Town responds: the City of Cape Town’s Development Management Department was responsible for processing the land use and building applications related to this property, erf 10905 Constantia.

In August 2012, the department received a land use application for the amendment of the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework in order to

* Include this property within the urban edge;

* To re-designate it from high potential and unique agricultural land to urban development;

* For the rezoning of the land from rural to subdivisional area;

* For the subdivision of the property into 10 portions;

* For regulation departures, and

* For conditional use to permit a place of assembly (meeting hall for functions) and place of instruction (art gallery).

From page 1

Importantly, as part of the City’s application process, an environmental authorisation Record of Decision (RoD) from the Western Cape Government’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning DEADP) was required. The provincial RoD was obtained in June 2013 and this RoD was taken into account when assessing the merits of these applications. This application was then approved in August 2015.

Furthermore, building plans for the gallery were approved by the City on 12 May 2017 in terms of the National Building Regulations. The department can also confirm that construction on site has been done in accordance with the approved plans.

Due process, including public participation, has been followed regarding these applications.

The Western Cape Government’s DEADP RoD included conditions of approval, which had to be complied with when developing the land. Also, the land use conditions of approval required the development to be substantially in accordance with the detailed site development plan. It also required that an approved landscape plan be implemented. The conditions also required that a Home Owners’ Association be established for this development that will be responsible for ensuring that there is compliance with the environmental authorisation conditions. Substantial areas along the river and behind the gallery are zoned as agricultural and are kept free of development.

The approved landscape plan indicates the types of vegetation for different areas, including portions for indigenous species. The restoration of the wetlands will contribute significantly to conservation efforts regarding the western leopard toad.