AN APPLICATION TO transform 38 Constantia Main Road from a single, historically-protected one-storey building to include two additional double-storey units has been approved by Subcouncil 20.
The property is on the corner of Constantia Main and Orient Road.
The WRRA has appealed the approval, based on concerns that the development departs from important safety aspects prescribed by the City’s zoning scheme and the Municipal Planning Bylaw.
This is what 38 Constantia Main Road currently looks like:
This is the proposed development:
The WRRA is concerned that the driveway servicing two of the three units (in Orient) will be only 4 m away from the Constantia Main/Orient intersection. Municipal regulations specify a distance of 10 m from an intersection.
The development envisages four cars entering and exiting this driveway only 4 m from the intersection. Pedestrians will have to use the same gate too.
Both Orient and Constantia Main carry heavy traffic (about 322 cars per 90 minutes in peak hour), which will make entering and exiting the driveway dangerous.
Current plan for the development:
Other WRRA concerns
- Transport Cape Town referred to the driveway as substandard in earlier email correspondence.
- Exiting and entering the parking areas will be unsafe.
- There’s no direct access from parking spaces to the units – residents will have to walk out to the street and all enter through the pedestrian gate. This is unsafe.
- According to municipal regulations, this pedestrian gate is also too close to the intersection for safety.
Can this be correct?
Public documents* show that the developer had actually revised their plans after receiving the WRRA’s concerns and suggestions, but withdrew it again and reverted to the initial proposal after discussions with Council.
This suggests that, while the architect and owner were not only willing to reconsider, but actually spent time and money to accommodate our concerns and meet the legal requirements for the development, city officials persuaded them to go with the first, unsatisfactory plan. Why was the developer advised against better compliance with the law and the reasonable requests of the community?
Other points raised at the Subcouncil meeting
- Pierre Hoffa of Land Use Management said the driveway only serves one of the units. This is inaccurate – it will service all three units.
- It was also claimed that the aesthetics of the development will be compromised if moving the driveway to 10 m. The WRRA is of the opinion that form should follow function – in other words the aesthetics of the development should be designed with a 10 m distance in mind.
- No-one at the meeting seemed aware of the payment of “scrutiny fees”** the developer paid according to a document contained in the official report. What were these fees, to whom were they paid and for what purpose?
The 38 Constantia Main Road issue follows about 18 months after 27 Orient Road, which also consists of three duplex units where before there was only one house. The 27 Orient Road debacle led directly to the formation of the WRRA. In that case the Subcouncil also voted in favour of the development in spite of detailed objections by more than 60 residents.
* The Land Use Management (LUM), which processes all development applications, submits a public report that is freely available before each application is heard by Subcouncil. The information in the report is therefore open and in the public domain. The report contains signed statements by the developer that the plans were first altered, but that they reverted to the original ones as “in discussion with Council, it has been decided to retain the original plan submission”.
** The particular document is indicated to date from the start of the application process. At the Subcouncil meeting, the LUM claimed an “application fee” is paid for processing documents and a “scrutiny fee” is due only when official approval is given to a plan – but the developer expressly refers to “scrutiny fees” in the report that the LUM themselves compiled. That the developer claimed to have paid these “scrutiny fees” in this publicly available report issued by the LUM and that the LUM then claims not to know what these fees are, is all the more puzzling.