Seaside village protests

People’s Post
Tuesday 19 June 2012
TERESA FISCHER

Check out the video Greg Copeland made of the Kommetjie Solidarity Walk
Youtube link: http://youtu.be/iUWuBFAAAYQ

Residents were out in force, dogs in tow, on Saturday to make a statement against proposed developments which, they say, will alter the character of the “little seaside village”.

There are two adjacent developments planned in Wireless Road, where two- and three-storey walled apartment blocks are proposed.

The central development, on the open field between the petrol station and Fisherman’s Pub, consists of a mall or retail centre with an anchor tenant, and several residential apartments.

Three of the four Basic Assessment Reports for the Wireless Road developments and the central site were released for public comment. Residents have until next Tuesday (26 June) to comment.

Another development is planned around the Lighthouse.

A scaffolding was erected on the beach to illustrate the height of three-storey buildings, which the Kommetjie Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (KRRA) fears may become a common sight in Kommetjie.

The KRRA says the developments are to be viewed within the framework of the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework (CTSDF), which has been approved by province. This framework aims to guide and manage urban growth and has been in process since 2007.

It provides “broad use brush strokes” for the City’s new zoning scheme. The zoning scheme has not been released yet.

This CTSDF went through three phases of public participation.

Vice-chairperson Daryn Smith says the problem is that the CTSDF endorses development in these areas, which are highlighted in the framework as “development corridors”.

He adds they are to be treated equal to all other parts of the city “no special treatment for coastal gems”.

He says this is where references to a four-lane road between Sun Valley and Ocean View come in, as this will be necessary to accommodate the increased population density.

The KRRA approached the provincial authorities to see if they can appeal the approval of the CTSDF.

Resident Robyn Hoepner says: “We live here because we love nature, the outdoors, the peace and serenity we feel here, the birdlife and porcupines, the waves … the raw energy.” Adding she recently heard the comment “money talks, protest walks”, Hoepner says this is only because society allows those with money to have the power.

“If we don’t do something and stand together to oppose this development, we will live in a place where we will have to endure noisy building sites and bulldozers for a few years at least.”

An increase in crime, impact on wildlife and increased traffic are some of the residents’ concerns.

Former KRRA chairperson Patrick Dowling says the concurrent timing of the planned developments has impacted on the imagination of the village. He says it is a feeling the “village you came to love was slipping away”.

He says places like Blouberg and Hout Bay are examples of overdevelopment.

Dowling says congestion on Kommetjie Road will have a major overall impact. “It is not just these four developments, there are others waiting in the wings.”

But, he adds, not all development is necessarily bad if, for example, the residents were making the decisions. However, a feeling of being “bulldozed” and denied sufficient time to comment has increased residents’ frustration.

He questions the logic of densification if it takes place where people live, rather than around places of employment, as people still need to travel to work.

He adds there is a perception developers go through “tickbox processes” to conform with requirements, rather than absorb public opinion.

 

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