Civic to appeal retirement village approval

The Municipal Planning Tribunal met on Tuesday at the Alphen Centre.

A Constantia civic organisation says it will appeal the unanimous thumbs-up the City’s planning tribunal has given for the development of an upmarket retirement village.

The Municipal Planning Tribunal’s (MPT) decision on Tuesday October 16 follows years of objections, redesign and paperwork by neighbours and the Constantia Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (CRRA) (“Retirement village plans overturned,” Bulletin June 2, 2016).

The CRRA says it will appeal the tribunal’s approval of a land-use application that clears the way for the development on the 6-hectare Mount Prospect Farm in Constantia. The site comprises two plots: erf 2641 in Pagasvlei Road, which has a homestead, two barns, several outbuildings and a wetland, and the smaller erf 2643, which is in Olive Close.

The planning application was for rezoning from single residential to general residential and to consolidate the two erven. It was first advertised in July 2015 (“Planned retirement home raises density concerns,” Bulletin September 3, 2015).

The farm was left to Jane Porter by Stanley Allan Porter, who died in 2010. Ms Porter would now like to retire on the land.

Heritage Western Cape turned down the initial application for a 60-dwelling retirement estate. This was revised to 37 units and was also rejected by Heritage Western Cape’s impact assessment committee, which referred to Mount Prospect as “one of the mosaics of the landscape that are important in the cultural landscape and considered the site to be very unique, also as a remnant of early Constantia”.

In her presentation to the MPT at the Alphen Centre, Yvonne Liebman, representing the CRRA, said they were not opposed to the development but that the six units (on the south-western boundary) destroyed the historical, rural, cultural value of the farm.

Matthew Bresler, representing residents in Olive Close, said they had objected three times and were against the densification of the double-storey houses on the smaller plot, erf 2643.

In his presentation, Geoff Underwood, of Planning Partners, said they had listened to the objections and redesigned the development, reducing the units to 37, a density of 10 per hectare, reduced from the recommended 15 units allowed in the area.

He said they could not accept the reduction of the six units because that would not make the development financially viable.

The City’s planning manager, Pierre Hoffa, asked that the six units on the south-western
boundary be retained. He said the South African Heritage Resource Agency was not the decision
maker and had been overruled in the case; that the development was in keeping with others in the surrounding area; and that the design was very modest and
had a low impact on the neighbours.

The MPT decision to pass the development was made by five men who listed their findings and concerns. Some had visited the site. They said the developer had heeded the objector’s concerns – especially those around the the heritage features, the sense of space and scale, and the rehabilitation and restoration of the wetland – and redesigned and refined their plans, which now represented medium- to low-density units in keeping with the area.

MPT member Daan Visser summed up the application, saying: “It was initially a disaster, but through much work it has been reduced to what we see now. It is sensible and maintains a sense of place and the heritage feel of the area”.

However,headdedthat he would like to see more work
done on the six units that blocked the view of the heritage build-

The MPT agreed to the rezoning and consolidation of the two erven with the condition that the six units be redesigned to allow right of sight to the existing buildings.

MPT chairman David Daniels said that residents and the CRRA had the right to appeal the decision.

Ms Liebman said the CRRA would do just that.