Has Cape Town City Council begun to pave the way for the proposed relief road for Main Road without first consulting Wynberg residents?
It certainly looks like it, as the council has applied for the demolition of a Wellington Road cottage that is in the way of the proposed relief road.
The relief road – also known as the Brodie Road couplet – will be a two-lane public road that cuts right through residential Wynberg and will carry heavy traffic such as buses, trucks and taxis (see map below).
The City has repeatedly promised public participation before finally deciding whether to proceed with the Brodie Road couplet.
“Since February 2014, residents and the WRRA have been asking our ward councillor and the City’s Mayoral Committee member for transport, Brett Herron, for more information,” says WRRA vice-chairperson Kristina Davidson, who also heads up the WRRA heritage and land use committees. “We keep being told that we have to wait until the conceptual designs are complete before public participation can start”.
What Herron and our present ward councillor failed to tell the WRRA, was that the City had already advertised the proposed demolition in the Cape Times.
And that our ward councillor had supported the proposed demolition.
To Davidson this all sounds very suspect. “Have we been kept at a distance on purpose? The application to have the cottage demolished shows the City has been proceeding with the planned relief road while telling us that nothing has been finalised yet.”
This is contrary to the resolution taken by the Protea Subcouncil in 2002, as proposed by then ward councillor Debbie Schafer, that “no phase [of the couplet scheme] will be commenced before an extensive meaningful public participation process has taken place and overwhelming support of the public is obtained”.
Demolition of cottages
At their meeting on 24 August 2014, the Protea Subcouncil approved the demolition of three council-owned cottages in Plumstead. They would also have approved the demolition of 17 Wellington Road in Wynberg, were it not that a permit is first required from Western Cape Heritage, as the cottage is older than 60 years.
The cost of providing security at the unoccupied cottage was given as a reason for the demolition of 17 Wellington Road, but the application also mentions that the cottage falls within the “proclaimed South Road widening scheme” – which includes the Brodie Road couplet.
“How the City can contemplate demolishing well-built houses when the country is facing such a serious housing crisis makes no sense at all,” adds Davidson.
Why are we concerned about the couplet?
The WRRA welcomes the roll-out of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme to Wynberg, as there is no rail link between Khayelitsha and our suburb. However, this particular plan will make Wynberg the first suburb where a new road is built right through an established, well-functioning residential area to make way for the BRT scheme.
Where else, asks Davidson, has the introduction of a MyCiti bus route meant that houses had to be demolished and Main Road made one-way?
The new road is expected to run from just below Rockley Road, up Tenby Road, through what is currently the Pick n Pay parking area, past Maynardville Park where the old home affairs office was, past the library and up Brodie Road. Houses in the way of the road all belong to the council.
- Traffic increase and commercial creep
The relief road will result in an increase traffic flow and speed, and result in further commercial creep. It will not only carry MyCiti buses, but also taxis, lorries and other typical Main Road traffic. The increased traffic and commercial creep will also increase pressure significantly on the Old Wynberg Village, an urban conservation area that already has many intractable traffic issues
- Bad for business
Businesses in Main Road will lose their passing trade, as vehicles travelling north will bypass a large section of Main Road. The new road will also create another barrier for shoppers from West Wynberg wanting to get to Main Road
Is there another solution?
The proposed BRT route will not join up with north-south BRT network – to get to town or Muizenberg, commuters will still have to take the train or a taxi.
One solution, says Davidson, is for the BRT to stop at the transport interchange in Wynberg, where commuters can then transfer to the train, a taxi or walk to their destination. After all, that’s what transport interchanges are for!