Civics protest over ‘monstrous’ development

Protesters who object to the Milnerton development site, where 300 units are to be constructed, placed signs on the site at the weekend.

The City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal has given the nod for a housing estate with its own sewage works to be built in Milnerton, but two civic groups are appealing, and their members protested at the site of the proposed development at the weekend.

Citing environmental concerns, questions around a proposed sewage plant and the nature of the hearings on the application, the Greater Table View Action Forum (GTAF) and the Sunridge Action Group (SAG) want a review of the tribunal’s decision to approve the First Plan Town Planners’ application on behalf of the Flandorp Family Property Trust.

The SAG questions how the privately-run sewage-treatment facility will discharge its contents.

The Municipal Planning Tribunal approved the application in July.

A group of about 40 Sunridge residents, including members of SAG and CapeXit, a political party pushing for Western Cape secession, protested at the site at the weekend with placards that labelled the application a “scam”.

The protesters built a mock grave with a white cross bearing the words “RIP education… The future”.

The application proposes the rezoning and subdivision of the site at 21 Canary Crescent in Sunridge, Milnerton, to build what the two civic organisations call a “monstrous” and “disastrous” development of 300 housing units.

The proposed gated community would boast a clubhouse, a combination of three-and four-storey duplexes and flats.

Calls to First Plan’s listed number were met with a voice prompt that said, “The person you’re calling is not available.” And the firm did not respond to emailed questions and an emailed reminder.

Tabletalk was also unable to reach the Flandorp family for comment by time of publication.

SAG member John Stothers previously told Radio 786 that, in a meeting with the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT), he had raised the existence of two wetlands in the area – one on the site and another on a nearby piece of land.

Mr Stothers said the chairperson of the tribunal had objected saying it was new evidence at the hearings, but Mr Stothers said he and other objectors had just recently found out about the wetlands.

He said residents had discovered the wetland on the site by accident two months ago. He said the Sunridge Primary School had also been barred by the City from building within 30 metres of the wetland.

GTAF planning portfolio head David Ayres told Tabletalk the school had been trying to build playing fields.

Mr Stothers said the City had told him and other objectors that the appeals window closed on August 8.

However, Mr Ayres said the City had almost bungled the entire process with a “terrible mistake” by sending appellants an incorrect email address. The residents had found out and had pressured the City to extend the date to Wednesday August 24.

Mr Stothers told Tabletalk that the applicant’s proposed privately-run sewage plant was one of four planned in the Milnerton area and they posed a risk to the lagoon and the beach.

Mr Stothers said there had been a conflict of interest at the hearings because a First Plan employee who regularly sat on the tribunal’s board had presented the application.

“I’m waiting for a colleague of mine to see how we can take that further,” Mr Stothers said.

Mr Stothers said he “felt insulted” by the tribunal chairperson’s suggestion that he “should go to Hermanus if he wants to see cranes” when he raised issues with the sewage-treatment plants.

Mr Ayres, who took part in the weekend picket at the site, said the application would have been rejected had the chairperson allowed Mr Stothers to table his evidence about the wetland.

“That wetland itself was not in the application. The applicants missed it. It was not in the City’s report. They also missed it,” he said.

Repeating a position that GTAF has consistently held, Mr Ayres said: “The City is ramming down the throat of residents a densification policy which is ill-advised. The City has got it wrong.

“There is no resident who wants this. They’re not positive about the development. The only resident who wants this is the developer.”

Mayoral committee for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews rejected Mr Ayres’ claim about the City prioritising developments.

“The process followed in the administration and processing of development applications is prescribed in the City of Cape Town Municipal Planning By-law,” he said.

“Furthermore, applications are assessed in terms of a criteria stipulated in the by-law. Thus the allegation that the City prioritises developers is unsubstantiated.”

The appeal process could take up to six months to conclude from the date of the notification of the tribunal’s decision, he said. “The final outcome of the application is thus not yet known.”

Mr Ayres urged those wanting to appeal the decision to email

David Ayres accuses the City of forcing an “ill-advised” densification policy on residents.