Retirement village plans overturned

It’s back to the drawing board for a consulting company after Heritage Western Cape (HWC) turned down an application for a 60-dwelling retirement estate in Constantia.

On May 11, the Heritage Impact Assessment was submitted by the owner and developer of Mount Prospect Farm in Pagasvlei Road to Heritage Western Cape’s Impact Assessment Committee who said the development proposal (revised to 40 units) is “not an appropriate response given the significance of the broader cultural landscape setting which includes Groot Constantia, the greenbelt, and the larger erven to the west which form a buffer to the rural landscape.”

The two parcels of land are, erf 2641 located on Pagasvlei Road, and erf 2643 in Olive Close in Nova Constantia (“Planned retirement home raises density concerns”, Bulletin September 3, 2015).

The committee referred to Mount Prospect Farm 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.

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.

In terms of the National Environmental Management Act, the development requires environmental authorisation which has been undertaken by Sillito Environmental Consulting (SEC), based in Tokai.

The need for more “cluster housing” in the Constantia Valley was indicated in the background information document.

It also stated: “The development proposal also includes a buffer area around a wetland, which has been identified on the site as the source area of the Pagasvlei Stream.

“The wetland and buffer have been incorporated into the design and layout of the development as private open space areas.

“A vegetated buffer will also be established along the development’s northern boundary with the historic Groot Constantia wine estate; and the design scheme of the development will be informed by the visual sensitivity of the Constantia area.”

The proposed development site currently has a homestead, two barns, several outbuildings and a horse livery.

Some of the buildings have been identified as having heritage value and will therefore be conserved in the design and layout of the development proposal.

“Currently, erf 2643 and erf 2641 are separate erven, each zoned for single residential use.

“To enable the proposed development to proceed, they need to be consolidated and rezoned to general residential subzone one, group housing,” said Ms Colleen McCreadie of SEC.

Public consultation is a component of the basic assessment process and plans were distributed to identified interested and affected party’s on July 17 last year. SEC also convened a meeting for Olive Close residents and landowners on August 12 last year.

Ms McCreadie said 73 people and organisations have registered as stakeholders for the application.

On May 11, Heritage Western Cape recorded the following decision: The development as proposed is unacceptable; the visual impact assessment and any mitigations that may be proposed do not address the fundamental principle of development within the broader cultural landscape context which has not been taken into account and won’t be mitigated away.

There may even be an older building on the site and an archaeological investigation (also for Constantia early stone age) should be undertaken;

The comments of the Constantia Residents’and Ratepayers’ Asso- ciation(CRRA)and other interested and affected parties including the Simon van der Stel Foundation were noted.

John Hesom, manager of CRRA said, the outcome at this round at HWC is therefore a very positive one for the future of Mount Prospect farm. “This will now be submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Planning.

“It remains to be seen what the developers will choose to do but the message sent by Heritage Western Cape could not be clearer,” he said.

Last week, Ms McCreadie, told the Bulletin that their project team is working on the various issues that came up in the HWC assessment and are trying to address them.