Urban creep threatens Bergvliet, Meadowridge

Ward councillor Eddie Andrews listened to residents’ concerns about urban and commercial creep in Bergvliet. He is pictured alongside Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association chairman Keith Barton and his daughter, Kim Barton-Lancaster, who noted the minutes of the meeting. Picture: Janice Matthews

Commercial and urban creep is threatening the suburban character of Bergvliet and Meadowridge and eroding property values in the process, residents told a civic meeting last week.

Over 50 people attended the Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association’s annual general meeting at Bergvliet Primary School on Thursday October 26.

Newton Drive residents, said Brandon Hansen, had not been alerted to the proposed development of three 208m² dwellings over double garages and double parking in front of each.

“We were all supposed to get registered letters for the affected parties in the area. That hasn’t happened from council for whatever reason, and there is just a little notice, an A4 piece of paper on the fence, that is basically saying if you have any objection, it’s got to be in before November 13.

“If that is the first of many, we are in big trouble. That is not why I bought in Meadowridge in 2008. It is not why I have lived here for 43 years. And it is not what any of us want to look at. We have to stop it right there. I am not even entirely sure how we even tackle it, but I think as a community we have to. If we don’t stop that, it sets a precedent going forward. It is an absolute disgrace to even put that in.”

Pat Daykin emailed in her concerns about commercial creep near the Acacia Way area opposite Main Road.

“This used to be a very peaceful suburb until a nursery gave way to a Spar. Despite residents putting out objections, it was passed. Spar said they would not go for a full liquor licence. Now there is a Tops, despite residents objecting again. There is now a KFC. It is really becoming a huge development hub very close to a residential area. So while we appreciate below Main Road is presumably a development area, we are certainly seeing a lot of creep now onto the western side.”

Ms Daykin said another education facility was popping up opposite KFC and Tops despite there being a creche next door and another a block away.

“The owners of residential property in Acacia Way have been packing up and moving away as objections to commercialisation of residential properties have proven to be fruitless. How can the character and nature of our suburb maintain value for property owners?”

Keith Barton, chairman of the Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association, said increased densification was a top concern.

“At one stage, we had a lot of vagrants last year, homeless people sleeping on fields. We try to help get some closure on sorting that out. It is causing a lot of consternation. We are also forever looking at the associated issues that come with densification that the City is pushing. As you know, our population is increasing extremely quickly, and it is set to double by 2037. So there is a real need for housing and a pushing for more houses onto single properties. I think that is starting to become an issue for the area.”

Much of the association’s work dealt with departures from title deeds, where people wanted to expand on their property or build up the boundaries, he said, adding that the association tried to remain uniform in its approach.

Treasurer Gail Lawson said the association had had to turn to consultants over planning issues, and fees ran into thousands of rand. She proposed that annual subscriptions, which had been R120 for more than two years, go up by R20.

Referring to the commercial area on Main Road, ward councillor Eddie Andrews said that each zoning had a category of rights, which the property owner was entitled to exploit. Local districts, he noted, would usually approve commercial applications if the zoning was correct and the appropriate traffic assessments had been done.

He added that the City’s SR1 and SR2 single residential zoning allowed for the building of second and third dwellings. However, urban-design principles would also considered when council made any recommendations to the municipal planning tribunal for it to approve or refuse development applications.

He said developments should be set back from the boundary, and balconies should not intrude on the privacy of an abutting owner.

“Also when a structure is visually intrusive that is also a concern, and the council will take it into consideration, but the issue around the registered letters and not being informed – that I am keen to further understand what has transpired there,” he said. “Whether it was required for the entire street to get the registered letters that is not always the case. There will be clearly identified within that block who should be commenting on the application. Everyone else can always comment, but you may not get a registered letter.”