Cornerstone of concern for Arum

An application for the approval of a fourstorey block of flats in Arum Road has been submitted to council. Residents have until Monday August 20 to submit their comments. This is an artists impression of the development.

Table View residents are once again gritting their teeth against another application to build a block of flats in Arum Road.

Promontory Property plans to build a four-storey block of flats with 24 parking bays and 19 units at 154 Arum Road.

The application to approve the plans for the building, Cornerstone on Arum, was submitted to council last month by Urban Eye Planning and Development on behalf of Promontory Property. The closing date for objections and comments is Monday August 20.

Arum Road has seen several such applications for high-rise buildings in recent years, much to the chagrin of local homeowners.

Two months ago, residents objected to a six-story mixed-use development going up in Arum Road (“Residents firm against Arum Road plans,” Tabletalk, June 27).

According to the latest application, a previous proposal was submitted for a four-storey building with 27 units and basement parking but the plans had to be amended to comply with “various restrictions as well as council policies”.

A pre-application meeting was held in May, leading to a revised proposal.

There is no basement in the latest proposal, according to John Smit, from Urban Eye Planning and Development.

Mr Smit said Promontory Properties had registered the property in the deeds office in February last year.

Previously it was under the management of Elco Property Developments.

Arum Road resident Eric Joffe said the site had been a headache since as far back as 2010.

“Elco properties put in an application for departure. We, Arum Road residents, got it thrown out with about 140 objections that we took to council,” he said.

The site had been rezoned from single residential to general business 3 in 2013, and that had given developers “a lot of leeway” to do as they pleased there, said Mr Joffe.

He fears the building will cause problems for surrounding “older houses”.

“The sand below is very loose. They are going to dig deep into the foundation for such a big building, and I wonder how it is going to affect the 30- to 40-year-old houses built on sand. Those houses might crack.”

But Mr Smit said building plans still had to go to the council for evaluation and approval.

“The construction company will need to ensure that the construction does not damage the adjacent properties, and therefore there will be structural engineers part of this construction team,” said Mr Smit.

Mr Joffe is also uncomfortable with the fact that Mr Smit once worked in the City’s planning department as a senior professional officer in the Blaauwberg District.

He feels this gives him an unfair advantage.

But Mr Smit said the fact that he was a former City employee “does not have any impact on the evaluation of the application or processing of the application as this is clearly guided by the Municipal Planning By-Law in terms of process”.

The development was above board as it followed the City’s policies, he said.

“Development is guided by the City’s spatial development frameworks and districts plans as well as various policies of council,” he said.

“These include the Blaauwberg district plan and the densification policy of the city, to name a few.

“The area along Blaauwberg Road, inclusive of Arum Road, is earmarked for higher density developments in terms of these frameworks and guidelines,” he said.

Lorraine Cornick, 75, has lived next to 154 Arum Road for more than 40 years and has concerns about development.

“The building will block all the sunlight from one side of my home. I think the height and vast area it’s going to cover are unacceptable. It’s going to have an impact on our lives.

“There are a lot of concerns. Concerns about infrastructure and noise and safety. I have an elderly husband,” said Ms Cornick.

Two months ago, it came to light that an outdated policy was to blame for densification in Table View and particularly in roads such as Arum and Blaauwberg (“Old policy to blame,” Tabletalk, June 6).

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said at the time that the 20-year-old document — a “management strategy” for Blaauwberg Road — would have to be updated if densification were to be halted in the area.

Mr Joffe had asked Mr Herron whether a moratorium could be placed on development in the area until such time as the document had been updated, but Mr Herron told him that would not be possible.

Chairwoman of the Greater Table View Action Forum Karen Davis said they opposed the development.

“Our suburb is the fastest growing suburb in South Africa, and, as stated on all objections, until the infrastructure is bought in line with the amount of people in this area, no further densification should take place.

“The roads are already overly congested and adding another 50 people trying to get in and out of that road will certainly create more problems than already exist.

“Added to this, that section of Arum Road is a quiet, residential street with mostly single-storey homes and a complex of three or four storeys, will take away people’s privacy, infringe on the rights of homeowners who have invested in this street to live a suburban life of peace and tranquillity,” said Ms Davis.