Orient house invades privacy

The view from a bedroom in Joan van Zyls house of three of the eight bed-and bathroom windows of the 27 Orient development. She planted the trees in front to one day obscure the view her new neighbours will have of her day-to-day life.

Joan van Zyl, Wynberg

Two points about the article (“Orient units up for sale,” Bulletin August 4).

1. I live next door to the development in question. At least eight windows belonging to two of its units stare directly into my garden, patio and every room in my house apart from my bedroom.

Walking through the new units, I noticed that one can see into every house across the road in Orient and Silverlea. All the neighbours have lost some privacy as a result of the 27 Orient Road development.

Apart from the obvious effect this will have on the value of our homes, the more universal question is about the value of one’s privacy in Wynberg. When I objected to the development more than two years ago on the basis of privacy, I was told by the planning department in Plumstead that the developer had every legal right to invade my privacy as a result of new Wynberg zoning by-laws.

The important lesson to be learned from 27 Orient is that any high building can be erected on one’s doorstep and wipe out one’s privacy, and it will just be one’s tough luck.

2. In the Bulletin article, ward councillor Liz Brunette comments: “It was a problem building. The result is good; just look at it.” The implication is that Otto Dragoun, the developer, saved the neighbourhood by turning a derelict problem building into a fancy development. This is untrue. As is clear from the rest of the article, Dragoun himself allowed the property to fall into disrepair and also become a drug house. Residents pointed this out several times, but our complaints were ignored by both Dragoun and the ward councillor until we approached someone higher up in the DA. Only then was the place declared a problem building and Dragoun forced to tidy it and upgrade security.

Personally, I believe both remaining units are far too expensive for what they offer, as well as for the area. There is a reason they are not selling while the new equally luxurious development on Wellington Road sold out even before building started. Which I guess explains why some semi-anonymous person connected with the developer asked the Bulletin to write a story about 27 Orient.

* In response to point 1, Priya Reddy, spokesperson for the City of Cape Town, said the area is zoned general residential (GR2), which permits buildings of up to five storeys. Buildings with multiple storeys are therefore quite commonly found in the area, due to the general residential zoning and being located in close proximity to the Main Road, where higher densification is promoted.

The property in question followed due process in obtaining its approval for the three double-storey dwelling units, with the structures complying with the National Building Regulations and all applicable law.

* Ward 62 councillor Liz Brunette responds: Upon receipt of information about the illegal invasion of the house at 27 Orient Road and the state of the building, I requested law enforcement’s problem buildings unit to investigate and take the appropriate action, which they did.

The new dwelling units are comparable with blocks of flats and other double-story homes in the area, where all properties between Wellington Ave and Bower Road are zoned general residential (GR2).

All property owners in this area have development rights in terms of their GR2 zoning, which the property owner of 27 Orient Road chose to exercise when he made application to develop the dwelling units.

Property owners can find out what rights apply to their property by accessing the Municipal Planning By-law on the City’s website, or visiting the Plumstead muni-cipal office and the Sub-council 20 office in Constantia.