Oakhill opposes cell mast

An artists impression of where the cell mast will be and how it will look.

Sunningdale residents are saying “no” to a plan to put a cell mast near their homes.

The Oakhill Village residents say the mast will threaten their health, their property values and their view of Table Mountain.

Pensioner Paul Hanegraaf, who heard about the plan by registered letter, says the proposed tower will be about 10 metres from his bedroom.

“We’ve all heard the debates around these cellphone towers and, whatever side you may be on the topic, no one can prove that these things are safe.

“The fact that they are planning to have this tower 10m away from my bedroom, it clearly shows how much the planners and the owners of that property disregard our health.”

The registered letter sent to Mr Hanegraaf and his wife, Pam, is dated December 12 2019, but Ms Hanegraaf said they had only gotten the notification slip in the post on Christmas Eve.

The deadline for objections is February 13.

Warren Petterson Planning is applying for the mast on behalf of their client, Sanlam Life Insurance, which owns the site proposed for the 25m free-standing telecommunication base station.

Ms Hanegraaf said a number of elderly in their road, who also live near the site, had not seen any notification.

“Even those that got the notices, how are they expected to go to their post offices? Some of these people are elderly. My other gripe with this is that we have people renting in our home. What happens if people don’t want to stay here? This is the only source of income we have since we are pensioners,” she said.

Justin Goodman, another Oakhill resident, said there was no need for the cell mast to be so close to their homes.

“I have tenants renting at my place and not once have I ever had a complaint about cellphone coverage, and I have not experienced any issues myself. This cell tower doesn’t have to be so close because there are families with children here and the elderly. We can’t have people exposed to these potentially harmful radiation emissions.”

In 2018, Table View residents successfully objected to a 25m free-standing cell mast at the Dutch Reformed Church in Grey Avenue. The application was also submitted by Warren Petterson Planning (“Cell towers planned for two churches,” Tabletalk, August 30, 2017). The proposal drew about 60 objections from residents citing health concerns and and the possible devaluing of their properties, among other reasons.

However, Greater Table View Action Forum chairwoman Karen Davis, said that while the residents had blocked the 25m mast, they hadn’t managed to stop a 5m mast on the church’s roof.

“Unfortunately, the City did not listen to us about the health concerns. They basically want someone to bring scientific proof saying that this is dangerous. We all know that there are radiation emissions coming from these towers. Some people may be sensitive to these emissions. There’s no telling what kind of long term effects this will have on people. Especially young people and the elderly,” said Ms Davis.

Recent changes to the City’s by-laws mean minor free-standing and minor rooftop cell masts will be allowed without prior land-use approval from the City or adjacent land owners. But building plan approvals may still be required. (“The City has been captured,” Tabletalk, November 13, 2019). Ms Davis conceded that people needed cellphone coverage but there should be alternatives to placing the masts in residential areas.

Sanlam referred Tabletalk to Warren Petterson, who in turn directed us to the City of Cape Town to answer any concerns raised. The City had not responded to emailed questions that were sent last Thursday, by the time this issue went to print.