Mount Prospect plan revised

An aerial view of the Mount Prostect Farm provided by the Constantia Ratepayers' and Residents' Association.

A proposal to develop an upmarket 37-house retirement village at Mount Prospect Farm in Constantia has been set aside in favour of one that only permits 31 houses.

Local Government, Environment Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredel last week trumped the City’s earlier approval of the original plan with the revised version.

In 2018 the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) lost an appeal against the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal’s decision to approve the 37-unit development. The association, citing environmental and heritage concerns, then appealed against the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning’s (DEADP) decision to approve the basic assessment report.

All of this followed years of objections, redesign and paperwork by neighbours and the CRRA (“Retirement village plans overturned,” Constantiaberg Bulletin, June 2, 2016).

The site, which is next to Groot Constantia, 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 first advertised in 2015 and was for the rezoning of the 6-hectare farm from single residential to general residential and to consolidate the two erven (“Planned retirement home raises density concerns,” Constantiaberg 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 had turned down the initial application for a 60-dwelling retirement estate. The revised application for 37 units 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”.

Putting the CRRA’s case to the Municipal Planning Tribunal in 2018, attorney and heritage practitioner Yvonne Liebman had said the association was only opposed to six of the proposed 37 units (on erf 2641) as they would destroy the historical, rural, cultural value of the farm (“Civic to appeal retirement village approval,” Constantiaberg Bulletin, October 18, 2018)

Upon hearing the news last week that the six units on erf 2641 had now been set aside, Ms Liebman said: “I could not wish for a better start to 2020. The historic erf now has to remain intact and the historic buildings have to be restored by the developer. Mount Prospect’s important role as a link from the Pagasvlei greenbelt to Groot Constantia will also remain intact.”

CRRA chairwoman Sheila Camerer said: “We are delighted. This small victory is as a result of months of plodding hard work by the CRRA and its team of volunteers.”

CRRA manager John Hessom added: “The reduction in the number of units from 37 to 31 by eliminating six units on the western side means that the continuity of public view lines across the historic farm buildings through to Groot Constantia will not be destroyed. “

In the letter stating his decision, Mr Bredell says the proposed development will have no more than 31 single-storey detached homes, including the historic Mount Prospect farmstead’s trees and four historic buildings, and the historic farmstead will remain in its entire-
ty.

“The proposed development also includes internal roadways and private open-space greenbelt areas. The greenbelt areas include stands of mature trees, which have been identified as having heritage
significance. The green areas will
include a vegetated buffer area and a vegetated buffer will also be established along the proposed development’s northern boundary with the historic Groot Constantia wine estate. The edge planting
along Pagasvlei Road will ensure
a visual link from the Pagasvlei greenbelt to the south, to the historic homestead on the site,” the letter
says