Plan for Woodbridge Island flats draws flak

A five-bedroom double-storey house in Weir Road will have to make way for a six-storey block of flats if the plans to build there are approved by the City of Cape Town

A six-storey block of flats planned for Milnerton’s Woodbridge Island is unwelcome as it will cause more traffic congestion and block views, say residents.

That’s not the only reason some are against it: residents fear a shop or restaurant on the plans will sell alcohol and lead to unruly behaviour and noise in the area.

In April, the developers, FH Simmons and Little Swift Investments, who are also the owners of the property, applied to the City to rezone the 2 655m² property at 2 and 4 Weir Road, from Single Residential 1 to General Residential 5 to make way for the 20m-high block of 75 flats and 64 parking bays, with access to the parking from Esplanade Street and Weir Road.

A five-bedroom double-storey house with a separate garage and a fenced-off vacant plot occupy the site.

According to the application, a “small shop” will face the Diep River Estuary, and a laundry room and refuse room will be built.

The deadline for objections was moved from Friday September 10 to Monday October 11 because of an administrative glitch, according to Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment. No objections had been received by the first deadline, she said.

However, Milnerton residents say the developers have “hidden agendas”. They say FH Simmons and Little Swift Investments is the same company that is behind the seven-storey Burmeister On Park development on the corner of Boundary Road and Marine Drive. That development was advertised originally as six storeys but is now seven storeys.

Mariam Abrahams, who has lived in the area for 14 years, said she would lose her view of Milnerton Lagoon and Table Mountain if the flats went ahead. The development would also lead to more traffic congestion and there were too few schools in the area to support the flats, she said.

“It might be a two-bedroom flat, but 10 people will end up living there. It always happens like that,” she said.

Linda Furman, of Milnerton Ridge, said the area’s sewerage infrastructure was already battling to cope.

“If this development should go as planned, developers should add a sewage plant to their plans or this will become our problem.”

The site was prone to flooding during the winter, and the “disgusting” building would ruin the area’s character, she said.

“This is such a wonderful area, people come from all over to walk with their dogs and families here because it is a safe and tranquil place. We don’t know what elements this development will attract,” she said.

According to the application, the shadow cast by the flats on neighbours’ homes would be of “minimum impact”, but Herculine Becker, who lives opposite the site, disagrees. The sun being blocked from her house would have a “major impact”, especially during winter, she said.

Milnerton Central Ratepayers’ Association (MCRA) chairman Bouwe van der Eems said the association would be objecting because a six-storey building in the middle of an area zoned Single Residential 1 was inappropriate, would hurt property values, intrude on privacy and open the door for similar developments in future.

“The MCRA is not opposed to densification in general. There are areas where it is appropriate to densify, and the MCRA has not objected to densifications in those areas. Densification in Weir Street is, however, inappropriate, and the MCRA cannot support this application,” he said.

The developer and shareholder of the property, Nicholas Simmons, said the Weir Road and the Burmeister On Park developments had the same project managers, and he happened to be one of them, but the developers were different.

He said Burmeister On Park had gone up by an extra floor but there was nothing underhanded about that and the City had approved the plan for it.

Mr Simmons said the owner of the house is aware of the time frames and development process.

“A decision on whether he will remain in one of the units or move will be his decision,” he said.

Tabletalk visited the house last Friday but nobody answered our knock on the door.

Mr Simmons said there would be a coffee shop on the ground floor, making use of Milnerton promenade.

“Such an attraction we hope will encourage more people to make use of the surrounding Milnerton beach, lagoon and promenade,” he said.

The design of each flat would only be finalised at a later stage and he could not confirm yet what they would look like or how much they would cost, he said.

“This development is still many years away from commencing so some of the finer details are not yet finalised.”

The developers had considered that the view of Table Mountain would be “compromised,” but the double story on the site already blocked some views, he said.

Tabletalk sent questions to Heritage Western Cape on Thursday, September 2 and a follow-up email on Monday, September 6 but they did not respond before this edition went to print.

Burmeister On Park development is currently under construction