Stonehurst input deadline extended

Erf 13372 is located above the junction of Steenberg Road and Westlake Avenue.

The City of Cape Town is planning to subdivide and rezone the last remaining portion of the old Raape Kraal farm, which now consists of Westlake Office Park, Steenberg Village, Silvertree Estate and Westlake Village (“Red light for farm rezoning”, Bulletin June 9, 2016).

Residents now have a second chance to lodge objections to the application as it had to be resubmitted by the developer due to a technical issue in the lodging of the application. The second round of public participation has been extended to Monday September 18.

The closing date for the initial public participation process was May 30 last year.

Mayoral committee member for area south, Eddie Andrews, said the City of Cape Town’s Development Management Department is processing a planning application to rezone and subdivide City-owned erf 13372 for the purpose of developing an electrical depot on one of the four portions.

“The entire site is currently zoned agricultural and is proposed to be rezoned to sub-divisional area, and sub-divided into four portions. The upper portion (remainder), containing the Oude Raapkraal homestead and bee farm, and the lower portion, at the intersection of Steenberg Road and Westlake Avenue, are not part of the current development proposals, and retain their agricultural zoning,” said Mr Andrews.

The middle portion of 7 663m2 is the subject of the development proposal and is indicated for utility zoning. It is proposed that this area will have road access via a new section of road (located on portion 3) joining at a new traffic circle close to the current access to Oude Raapkraal on Westlake Road. This road portion is indicated for transport zoning 2.

Mr Andrews said administrative offices, space for parking of the depot vehicles, and ancillary workshops and storage facilities within a landscaped setting are proposed.

He said the proposal was advertised in April 2016 and public responses received. During the collation of responses, it was found that re-advertising was necessary in order to reflect a technical amendment of reference to sub-divisional area and data correction to the size of the new portions.

Mr Andrews said the zoning of the individual portions, the land use, the built form and sub-division lines are unchanged from those advertised in April last year.

When the Bulletin first reported on the story, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe, said the plan was to subdivide the three hectares for an electricity depot to service the Muizenberg area and rezoning from agriculture to utility and to allow for a public street.

He said the depot would consist of a double-storey administrative offices; boardroom; guard house; ablution facilities; kitchen and mess hall; docking stations; truck port; van ports; covered and uncovered parking for staff and visitors; storerooms; workshops; oil trailer.

At that time there was an outcry from some of the residents at the 294 existing erven of Stonehurst because bees at the neighbouring De Oude Raapkraal farmhouse would be affected. Land surrounding the original 1820s farmhouse has already been chipped away in 2004 to make place for upmarket homes in Stonehurst.

Bee-keeper, Brendan Ashley Cooper, has lived there since 2015 and said the backbone of his business is to supply queen bees to assist pollination for fruit and vegetable farmers in the Western Cape. He supports about 1 100 beehives with queen bees bred from approximately 35 beehives on Oude Raapkraal. They contribute towards a
15 billion economy in the province and to about 60 000 jobs and support of their families.

He said chipping away at the farm has already impacted on the bees and the added air and noise pollution from the electrical facility will make things worse. He feels this is the wrong type of development for the area.

Mr Ashley Cooper said he has no idea why there is a second round of public participation ut he has re-submitted his original objection.

The motivation report drawn up by Elco Property Town Planners state that the character of De Oude Raapkraal homestead was taken into consideration during the design with the intention to minimise the visual impact that the proposed electrical depot would have on the existing heritage site.

The report also states that notice of intent to develop will be submitted to Heritage Western Cape. The Bulletin asked Eldred Smith of Elcoprop if this has been done but they pointed us to the City, saying they are not permitted to comment.

Stonehurst Estate recently sent a detailed document listing numerous objections regarding the application. First and foremost is that the utility will divide communities – Stonehurst and Westlake Village – which they said “smacks of the old apartheid regime …”

Estate manager Glynis Coetzee said a number of Westlake Village residents work at Stonehurst and walk up Westlake Drive to reach the estate. “With the addition of a nasty great utility in the proposed position their lives and well-being will be put at risk through the increase and utility nature of the traffic flow,” she said.

Ms Coetzee said their application was accompanied by pictures, including ones taken at the Westlake circle one morning – cars, pedestrians, bicycles, chickens, etc.

They are also concerned that it could introduce crime and vagrancy around the depot, as is evident around the Muizenberg one, seen in a picture accompanying the objection.

“Also, conceptually, this looks very much like the old days when affluent and non-affluent suburbs were divided by the town planners plonking a utility between them as a ‘buffer’ zone. We should be trying to encourage communities to interact, not put utilities between them,” she said.

Nicky Schmidt of Stonehurst Estate said in line with sustainable city trends, which include urban greening, this land, which has heritage, biodiversity and environmental value, could be put to much better use.

“Putting an electrical depot and, as the rumours go, a petrol station on this particular erf – which includes a natural spring – runs entirely counter to sustainable city development,” said Ms Schmidt.

“This, together with the potential knock-on effects of crime, which would likely filter into Westlake Village, the impact on the bee farm and serious traffic concerns are all grounds for serious reconsideration of the proposed development,” she said.

Local Ward 71 councillor Penny East is on extended sick leave and has not responded to numerous email enquiries about the land.

The Bulletin called Elco Property Developments (in Durbanville) on August 31 and the woman who answered the phone, who would not give her name, said to email questions. The Bulletin asked how many objections were submitted during the first round and how many have been received the second time; what the objections are and what is the next step after the objection period.

The email was resent on Monday and Tuesday September 4 and 5 and when we spoke to the same woman again who said they would respond when they have time but could not say when that would be. Objections can be emailed to comments_ and copy in by Monday September 18.