Sanddrift fumes over giant church

Six cement-mixer trucks parked in Ocean Spirit Avenue, Sanddrift

Construction on a three-storey Planetshakers church has started in Sanddrift East, but residents say it will be too big and noisy for their neighbourhood.

As a construction crane placed concrete blocks on the site, last Tuesday, angry residents met up in Howard Davis Road where they complained that the development would cause traffic congestion, drop property values, intrude on privacy, block the afternoon sun and make a wind tunnel for the south-easter.

Anthony Bragg moved to the area in 2000. He says Sunday is the only day he gets to rest, but the church plans to have at least seven services with 30-minute breaks between them and the noise will disturb the quiet neighbourhood.

“It’s going to be horrendous with that noise in this area, and our peace is going to be interrupted.”

Six cement-mixer trucks had blocked traffic and caused a stir in the neighbourhood when they had parked along Ocean Spirit Avenue on Sunday, September 12, he said.

Mr Bragg wants the church to agree to hold only one service, like other churches in the community.

Fellow resident Johnathon Newman agrees with him. “There are other churches in the area that are within keeping of the area. This is not a church,” he said.

The church runs from a business park in Edison Way, Century City, but it plans to move to the corner of Ocean Spirit Avenue and Ratanga Road at the end of April next year.

Erla Rabe, who lives next to the building site, said her property would be completely blocked from the afternoon sun. The construction workers were on site anywhere from 6am to 10pm, making a noise, she said.

She worked from home for six days a week and Sunday was her only day off, she said.

“The noise at this church will ruin our lives. I have very good ears, and I will hear everything, whether it is soundproofed or not.”

She sent Tabletalk the emails she sent to the architect and the church to set up a meeting. She claimed the church had not responded and the architect had agreed to have a meeting but had not confirmed when it would happen.

She said the architect had told her there would be only 17 parking bays at the site and the rest of the congregation would have to park at the Sable Square Shopping Centre on the opposite side of Ratanga Road.

Ms Rabe said it was “almost impossible” for a congregation of 700 people to walk nearly 1km from a parking area to the church and cars would inevitably start pulling up in front of residents’ doors and on the pavements.

“We want the church to make a commitment in writing that they will not use our roads for parking or entrance and exits to the church,” she said.

Isipani Construction spokesman Grant Robertson said the workers arrived between 6.30am and 7am, and work started at 7am and finished at around 6pm. When working hours had been extended, residents had been notified ahead of time.

“We try our very best to work within the guidelines set by regulations,” he said.

The architect, Heinrich Mostert, told Tabletalk that the 17 parking bays were for permanent staff and people with disabilities, and the church had made arrangements for off-site parking. The main entrance and exit would be in Ocean Spirit Avenue with a second exit on Howard Davis Road, the back of the church.

According to Mr Mostert, the church will be 12 meters high, in line with the zoning regulations. It will cover 1833m² on a 2321m² plot. The ground floor will have a lobby; a lift; a storeroom; a 200m² youth-development centre; a daycare centre with three classrooms, covering 300m², with toilet facilities; a covered play area and a refuse room. The first floor will have a 734-seater auditorium with a stage and backstage. There will be mostly offices on the second floor.

A traffic assessment had been done before building plans were submitted to the City, he said.

“The traffic impact assessment does not only look at the specific site but also at the impact on the surrounding road network in relation to the City’s transport plan. This development allows a very limited amount of traffic to and from the site,” he said.

The speakers in the church would face away from neighbouring homes, while the stage and the backstage would have an acoustic buffer, and clay brick would be used to build the church, with acoustic insulation in the roof space. However, he conceded that given the available space it would not be possible to design a 100% soundproof building.

Ward 55 councillor Fabian Ah-Sing said the site had been zoned for religious purposes and community use, inherited rights from when the Dutch Reformed Church had first bought the land in the 1980s.

“The residents did not want a building there, but the property can only be used for religious purposes, and I could not stop the church from being built, he said.

“They (the church) have the right to build there and the processes are being followed,” he said, noting that the City had approved the building plans.

Sable Square China Mall manager Yi Zhang said he had not heard about a church parking lot at the shopping centre.

Neither the church’s pastor, Fabian Jood, nor the City of Cape Town responded to questions by time of publication.