Old policy to blame

Arum Road, which runs parallel with Blaauwberg Road, is one of the streets in Table View being targeted for densification.

An outdated City policy document has been blamed for densification in the Blaauwberg Road area.

But according to Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, it is a policy councillors can change.

Addressing a public meeting in Milnerton late last month, Mr Herron said the 1998 document, Management Strategy for Blaauwberg Road, “predated” his time in council, but it was a blueprint for the pattern of development found in Blaauwberg and Arum roads.

“Planning officials have to implement policy and documents that are approved by council. Councillors determine the policy and the strategy,” he said.

Mr Herron said the 20-year-old document needed to be updated to be in line with the new Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) but that would take time.

Earlier this year, Ward 117 councillor Dr Joy McCarthy requested a written report on the work the City had done so far on the local area overlay (LAO) zone along Blaauwberg Road and for a task team of City town planners to discuss concerns about densification in the Blauuwberg Road precinct (“Housing developers lay siege to Table View,” Tabletalk, February 28).

An overlay zone essentially sets guidelines for development in an area, weighing up architectural, historical and cultural factors.

The City’s Municipal Planning By-law of 2015 describes the LAO zone as “a tool to be applied by the City in the interests of the city” and that “local interests need to be balanced against the interests of the general community”.

Dr McCarthy says high-rise developers are getting the nod to build in a seemingly rapid and haphazard manner in Table View, and she wants to know why.

Streets affected by recent applications to build blocks of flats include Blaauwberg Road, Arum Road, and Short Street.

Mr Herron said the City had told Dr McCarthy that an overlay zone was “not the appropriate mechanism” to control densification. Instead, he said, the City recommended updating the existing Blaauwberg Road Management Strategy.

Residents wanted to know whether the application could be stalled while the document was updated, but Mr Herron said that was not possible.

One resident asked whether the councillors had the best interests of Arum residents at heart, saying: “What is the value of that piece of paper that is called our title deeds if you are able to override us with overlay zones and by-laws?”

A Blaauwberg Road resident asked whether he was not “entitled to the sun anymore”.

He said a building regulation, since scrapped, had required buildings above 10m to be 7m away from surrounding properties.

“I can now land up against a four-storey building never seeing the sun. Is that acceptable?”

The Management Strategy for Blaauwberg Road can be found on the City of Cape Town’s website.

The document contains minutes of two public meetings, the first held exactly 20 years ago on May 13 1998 in the Milnerton library hall.

The attendance list included 24 people, roughly half the number of the people who attended last week’s meeting at the very same venue.

The minutes from that meeting 20 years ago record some of the residents’ concerns: “With all these high rise building and roads, where will the children play?” says one.

Another notes that, “Three- to four-storey building on Blaauwberg Road preferred,” and “height restriction is needed”.