Flats plan raises ire

David Walker, Ralph Breukel and Mark Schafer at the end of Barn Road, Bergvliet.

Bergvliet residents and the ratepayers’ association have raised a red flag about a property developer’s plans to build retirement flats in the area.

They argue the development would create a level of densification out of character with the Constantia valley’s rural charm.

At the end of January, residents surrounding Evergreen Lifestyle Village received notification of an application by the Westlake-based Amdec Group to rezone three plots at the end of Starke Road and across from Firgrove Way, from single residential to general residential.

The company, which owns Evergreen Lifestyle Village, has applied to council to extend the village and build 22 upmarket retirement flats in three double-story blocks. The firm would need to demolish three houses to do that.

Barn Road resident Ralph Breukel feels the development would not be in keeping with the surrounding area and could see existing trees removed.

“The proposed rezoning of the three erven can have big consequences in the future and destruction of the rural feel of the area,” said Mr Breukel. He says 17 residents surrounding the proposed development, in Barn and Starke roads and Firgrove Way, lodged objections with the City of Cape Town.

David Walker, chairman of Evergreen Lifestyle Village Management Association, said Amdec planned to build the flats with life rights in double and triple-storey buildings that would be the same height as the existing double-storey houses on the three plots.

The association had suggested Amdec build 12 houses in a similar style to the 65 already in the retirement village, but the developer had declined, said Mr Walker.

The association, he said, had then objected to the development on behalf of the village’s 109 residents. Ten of those residents had also objected individually before the Wednesday March 15 deadline.

The objectors argued the proposed flats would: be incongruous with the ambience of Evergreen Village; be within two metres of the western common boundary and block morning sunlight; overlook nearby houses and threaten neighbours’ privacy; and lead to more traffic in area.

Mark Schäfer, chairman of Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association, is also against the development.

“We’re not against densification, but it must be appropriate to the area,” he said. “We suggest a scaled-down development which is in keeping with other cluster developments in the surrounding area.”

Rezoning decisions, he argued, were made by a municipal planning tribunal of town-planning professionals, not elected representatives accountable to ratepayers.

Amdec’s development director, Cobus Bedeker, said each the of upmarket flats would be 110m2 with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, with basement parking of about 50 bays. The flats would be sold for upwards of R4m.

“The building is designed to look like three separate double-storey houses. This was done to fit the character of the surrounding area,” he said.

There would be vehicular access to the units from the existing Evergreen Lifestyle Village.

“The development is not profit driven, we want to make it robust and sustainable for the future. As it stands, we have not committed to building the extension (to Evergreen Village). We are waiting for town planning to be in place and then decide when and how to proceed,” said Mr Bedeker.

According to Amdec’s website, the privately-owned property development and investment business was founded in 1989, and has six Evergreen retirement villages in a portfolio that includes Melrose Arch and XtraSpace storage facilities.

Mr Schäfer, a lawyer by profession, said that after rezoning, a developer was not bound by the diagrams it submitted in support of the rezoning application. Those diagrams could be withdrawn and a fresh application submitted once the rezoning had been approved.

“How far do we allow developers to go before they change the atmosphere of an area?” he said.