Residents vow to fight block of flats

An artist’s impression of the block of flats planned for Zonnekus Road, Milnerton.

Milnerton residents fear they will lose their views and millions of rand off their property values from yet another block of flats planned for the area.

The five-storey block of flats is planned for 4 Zonnekus Road.

In November 2020, the City approved a zoning application that would have allowed the owner, Brent Vinnicombe, to build ten townhouses there, but that development never went ahead, and now Mr Vinnicombe wants to build the five-storey block with 31 sea-facing units, 40 parking bays, and glass swimming pools on each floor.

Milnerton residents have vowed to oppose the plan, saying it will increase traffic congestion and block their views of Milnerton Lagoon and Table Mountain.

According to Mr Vinnicombe, his plans are awaiting environmental authorisation, but the City says it has not received any new applications for the site since the property was given General Residential 2 (GR2) zoning for the ten townhouses.

“The approved GR2 zoning does allow for flats, and the current rights on the property are for 10 units. Should the owner wish to increase the number of flats, a land-use application must be submitted,” said mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews.

But Mr Vinnicombe said the zoning for a block of flats had already been approved just over a year ago.

“We have just decided the demand has changed from our original plan of doing 10 large homes here to giving more people an opportunity to invest in a beautiful apartment on the beach with an outlook of the ocean and Table Mountain,” he said.

According to the plans Mr Vinnicombe sent to Tabletalk, the property is just over 3000m² and will have two- and three-bedroom units of about 56m² to 100m² in size.

Pricing for the units had not yet been determined, Mr Vinnicombe said.

Residents would enter and exit along Zonnekus Road.

Mr Vinnicombe said the “upmarket development would be on the beach sand” and would be attractive to people working in the city who wanted to escape congestion.

“This type of living is in high demand in South Africa; it allows the opportunity for more people to be able to live close to the city, and, more importantly, be able to live on the beach that is generally reserved for large big houses.”

The plans say views of Table Mountain and the beach will not be obscured. Asked about this, Mr Vinnicombe said: “It is a five-floor complex on the beach, so I’m sure somebody that lives behind it would be impacted by a view in some way or manner. This is natural for any building construction. Nobody owns a view, and progress, unfortunately, does happen. Those using the public areas, walkways along the beach road will still have great views unaffected.”

During the initial public-participation process for the townhouses application, which ended on Thursday October 29, 2020, only eight objections were received from neighbours who were concerned about traffic congestion.

Those opposing the latest plan say the Milnerton Esplanade will soon resemble Sea Point or Blouberg, which they say is not in keeping with the area.

Stuart Hofmeyer, from the Milnerton Central Ratepayers’ Association, said they would be objecting to the new plans as a block of flats would increase traffic congestion.

“We have supported the initial plans to have 10 units, but a building higher than three-storeys will be monstrous.”

Tall developments to the west side of Marine Drive should be avoided as they would block the views of Table Mountain, he said.

“We are not against densification, but when there are plans for buildings that are too tall and too dense, we will object.”

Residents were already up in arms about a 20m-high block of 75 flats planned for 2 and 4 Weir Road (“Plan for Woodbridge Island flats draws flak,” Tabletalk, September 8, 2021), he said.

A resident, Herculine Becker, said she was opposed to the development because of the impact it would have on traffic, parking, sewerage, the coast and the aesthetics of the area.

“Developers plan to build this block on a scenic route, which will negatively impact residents and visitors,” she said.

An aerial view of the property.