Arum Road plan gets a no

Plans to build high-density blocks of flats in Arum Road, Table View, were refused by Sub-council 3 at its monthly meeting last week.

The application by Elco Property Development included the rezoning of 181 Arum Road from single residential to general residential to allow for the three-storey block of flats with ground-floor parking.

Another application is for the rezoning of 89, 91 and 93 Arum Road, to allow for a four-storey block with 75 units. Residents have been vocal in their disapproval of the plan which was submitted to council in May 2015 (“Residents refuse Arum Road plan,” Tabletalk, November 25, 2015).

Council received 120 objections from residents against the developments. Ward 113 councillor Dr Joy McCarthy made no bones about her disapproval of the development, saying she needed to speak up for the surrounding residents whose lives would be negatively impacted.

“I do not support the application,” she said.

She wanted to know why the developers were targeting Arum Road, in particular, and said the application was neither appropriate nor kind to long-time residents “who have been contributing rates for years”.

“To suddenly have 75 flats go up on four floors, putting your house in the shade and having people peer over your swimming pool and entertainment area, is not fair,” she said.

The ground-floor parking for the development at 181 Arum Road, it was explained, had the possibility of being converted to residential units in future – another feature that did not sit well with Dr McCarthy.

City of Cape Town town planner John Smith said City policies favoured densification, including getting more feet onto public transport such as the MyCiTi buses.

But Dr McCarthy would have none of it, and said officials were “chasing rainbows” if they believed people would get on the bus.

“To say people are going to use public transport is a myth. I don’t use it because I don’t work in Cape Town. I go in a different direction,” she said.

Mayoral committee member for area north, Suzette Little wanted to know what could be done “to make the development desirable for those living in the area”.

During the discussion, Ms Little raised the reality of growth in the city which needed to be accommodated.

“By saying outright no, we’re allowing someone else to make that decision,” she said referring to the possibility that the applicant would appeal sub-council’s decision (at the City’s Planning Appeals Committee).

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said that while the city had to densify, such densification should not be “ad hoc” and should be appropriate.

“Because we don’t have a detailed plan, you get applications that are out of bounds of what is appropriate,” he told sub-council.

ACDP councillor Demetrius Dudley said he was not anti-development, but he was concerned about the availability of water.

“People need water. How are we going to deal with that? Such development needs water, and yet we’ve asked people to cut down on water consumption,” he said.

Arum Road resident Eric Joffe said his neighbours were delighted with the sub-council’s decision.

Mr Joffe has lived in his house since 1974 and is a former chairman of the Table View Ratepayers’ Association.

He said they did not need high-density developments in the residential road.

The “needs of the greedy”, he said, should not weigh more than “the wants of people who have paid rates for years”.

“This isn’t about high density. This is about money,” Mr Joffe said.

Tabletalk approached Elco Property Development for comment. An email and cellphone message to director Eldred Smith went unanswered. Tabletalk also left a message at his Durbanville office.