Plan for Dunoon underpass

Upgrading the underpass includes relocating several shacks built at its entrance.

The City of Cape Town’s planned multi-million rand expansion of Dunoon onto the other side of a national freeway is being done “under the radar”, according to the leader of a nearby residents’ association.

Meanwhile, Mark Pinder, the City’s head of project planning and conceptual design, told the Sub-council 3 meeting last week that planning settlements on each side of the N7 was “a recipe for disaster”.

But he gave a PowerPoint presentation on how upgrades planned for the N7 could support the Dunoon housing expansion, including using an existing 4m-high agricultural underpass – basically a tunnel for cattle and farm equipment – under the N7 to link Dunoon to the new extension.

The new neighbourhood is to be built on a portion of the Annandale Farm, just north of Richwood, that the City has bought.

The City announced plans last week to develop the low-cost homes, with Brett Herron, Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, saying sites for retail and light industry would be considered during the planning process to give residents access to job opportunities (“Multi-million rand upgrades due for Dunoon,” Tabletalk, May 23).

During his presentation, Mr Pinder said the City was looking at ways of linking the two communities in the long term, including finding a safer alternative to crossing the N7.

A footbridge wouldn’t work, he said, because for it to span a raised roadway used by tall heavy vehicles a “considerable climb” of about 7m would be needed from the ground to the bridge deck “making the use thereof strenuous and unattractive”.

He said the preferred option for the area were new underpasses for both vehicles and pedestrians, but, in the short term, the plan was to refurbish the agricultural underpass. But shacks near its entrance would have to be relocated before it could be cleaned and have lights and cameras installed.

Cost of upgrades included R160 000 for security cameras, R70 000 for lighting and R100 000 for cleaning and painting and stormwater drainage at the underpass. Mr Herron said upgrading the N7 underpass is a joint project between the City and the Western Cape Government (WCG).

“The City’s town planners are responsible for the planning of the local road network and through discussions with the WCG they have agreed to provide the vital structures that enable safer crossing of the N7 in the future as part of the planned upgrades for the N7 corridor. The WCG is responsible for the construction of the underpasses,” he said.

He said currently approximately 1 000 pedestrians per day are crossing the N7 which was an “unacceptable safety risk” not only for pedestrians but also for the motorists using the N7.

“By re-opening the agricultural underpass, together with security/neighbourhood watch and security cameras, it is anticipated that a significant number of pedestrians will be attracted to make use of this safer facility”.

Dunoon residents have been told about the plans to upgrade the underpass, but Ward 1 councillor Cheryl Visser said her constituents in neighbouring Richwood had not heard about the plans.

“I have never been invited to any of the discussions nor had the opportunity to represent the people of Ward 1,” said Ms Visser.

She said the new development meant more people would be living in the area and that would have an impact on Richwood which she stressed was also a residential area.

Richwood Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (RRRA) chairman Kenny Brooks questioned why the upgrade plans had not been made available sooner.

“No public comment or ideas were suggested, and no role players were consulted. The transport department did a pedestrian survey, but their information is not accurate. The survey was done by the furthest end of Dunoon and not by the Richwood side that sees triple the amount of pedestrians walking over the highway,” said Mr Brooks.

And the plans for the low-cost housing on Annandale Farm had not been publicised, he said.

“How can they propose this site without community comment? The safety and security in that area has been overlooked. How are the police, and neighbourhood watches supposed to patrol that area at night and during the day? Whose jurisdiction will it fall under? This whole development has been approved very under the radar.

“Proposals, plans and building time frames were announced but again no public comment allowed.

“Attending the sub-council meeting (which is also an open meeting), we were told that no questions would be allowed from the public.

“How can a development be started without consulting the public? We would like to see the transport plan for Richwood as well. Why does our community not benefit from this massive upgrade?” he said.