Housing developers lay siege to Table View

Table View’s ward councillor wants City officials to explain to her constituents why high-rise housing developers appear to be laying “siege” to the suburb.

Ward 113’s Dr Joy McCarthy tabled a motion at last week’s sub-council meeting essentially seeking answers on the City’s push to cram more housing into the suburb, as part of what it calls its densification policy.

A spate of applications to build blocks of flats in the area has angered residents. They say they are losing their once-quiet suburb to densification (“Table View is being captured,” Tabletalk, February 21).

Dr McCarthy wants a written report submitted to sub-council on the work the City had done so far on a local area overlay zone along Blaauwberg Road; a task team of City planners to meet with her, sub-council chairman Jan Brand and area north Mayco member, Suzette Little, to discuss concerns about densification in the Blaauwberg Road precinct; and for that team to explain their thinking for future planning in the area to residents at a public meeting to help them understand why their neighbourhood appeared to be “under siege”.

An overlay zone essentially sets guidelines for development in an area, weighing up architectural, historical and cultural factors. Table View, said Dr McCarthy, had once been a tranquil residential suburb, with moderate homes on 1004m2 plots occupied by ordinary families.

“As the young people have left home to start their own families, the parents have remained in their homes, hoping to live out their retirement years in tranquillity. With the changes in the City policy to promote densification and the identification of a growth corridor up the West Coast, this was not to be.

“There has been ongoing pressure to densify in the quiet residential streets of Table View, but no coherent plan or proposal as to how or where this should or could happen was ever proposed,” she said.

She said there have been “inappropriate ad hoc development and densification” along Blaauwberg Road, with outdated documents like the Blaauwberg road management policy of 2000 being cited as justification.

“For the record, the nett density of Blaauwberg Road was already in excess of 50 dwelling units per hectare, double what is required by international standards to support a functioning public transport system.”

She said pressure from development had mounted on Blaauwberg Road with the arrival of MyCiTi, and it had spread into residential streets.

“Contextually inappropriate, undesirable high-rise developments are being proposed by developers and sanctioned by the Municipal Planning Tribunal as being legally compliant,” she said.

Dorothy Viviers, 84, a Blaauwberg Road resident, is smarting after learning about the proposed plans to build an eight-storey block of flats next to her house at 130 Blaauwberg Road.

David Bettesworth Town & Regional Planners, submitted an application to council, on behalf of the developers, for the mixed-use building with 113 parking bays.

“I have lived here for 25 years and could never have imagined the horror of an eight-storey building right next door. If I wanted to live in an area with high rises, I would have bought a home in the city centre,” said Ms Viviers.

She suffers from a back problem and said sleeping pills and tranquillisers had done little to ease her stress about the planned development.

“In an urban environment, loss of privacy and increased noise level is a disaster. All my savings and investments have been poured into this property and I do not have the means to relocate.

“Do our city fathers want to start another Hillbrow in Table View? This is going to happen as soon as one gets away with putting up a block of flats here, others will follow.”

Nearby another development proposed for Short Street has rattled surrounding residents.

There have been several objections to the proposed six-storey block of 102 flats and more than 100 parking bays.

One of the objectors is Brian Lloyd, a resident of Norton Square, which houses 73 retirement homes.

Norton Square is close to Short Street, and Mr Lloyd fears the development will threaten the health, safety and well-being of the old and frail.

“The main objection is the noise that will result of the building going up. Short Street is peaceful and tranquil, and the noise levels will disrupt this. Also, the elderly people already struggle to cross Smart Street as is to get to Bayside Mall.

“When that building goes up, the street is going to be much busier, and they will have even greater difficulty to cross the road,” said Mr Lloyd.

David Bettesworth, from David Bettesworth Town & Regional Planners, stressed that his firm was not a developer, but a professional town-planning consultancy.

“As such we are not developing these two projects but applying for town planning approvals on behalf of the developers.”

He said residents had the opportunity to comment or object to the development proposals or any aspects thereof as set out in the advertising letters sent to the neighbours.

“Any objections or comments received will be carefully considered, and, if necessary, the development proposals will have to be adjusted in order to respond to any legitimate concerns. This is a normal part of any town-planning application process of this nature.”

Regarding noise pollution during building, he said some form of “inconvenience” during any building project was normal, but he said construction was carefully regulated by council in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act and other legislation. “This includes the regulation of noise, hours during which building can occur etc”.

With regards to Ms Viviers’ concerns about a lack of privacy and a burden on infrastructure, Mr Bettesworth encouraged residents to raise their specific concerns about those issues during the public comment process, but he said any town planning application’s potential impact on infrastructure was “carefully assessed” by Eskom as well as the City’s engineering, solid waste and transport departments.