Highbury project caught up in red tape

The Highbury Phase 3 site is under construction.

The construction of Highbury Phase 3 housing development on the corner of Nooiensfontein Road and Stellenbsoch arterial has hit a delay “in process”, according to Nick Ferreira, senior project manager at Power Construction, the development company responsible for the project.

Northern News last reported on the development in December last year (“Final stamp of approval for project”), after it had been given the go-ahead following a lengthy process to secure funding.

The project was initiated in June 2012 and the final go-ahead was confirmed to Northern News last year by Nathan Adriaanse, director of communications and stakeholder relations at the Department of Human Settlements, who at the time told us, “The department signed a land availability agreement which gave Power the right to develop.

“However, as the development is predominantly Breaking New Ground (BNG), application for funding was made to the City to fund the services, which was approved…”

However, during a meeting with Mr Ferreira last week, at the developer’s Blackheath offices, he told Northern News that in order to submit the building plans for the houses, top structure services needed to be completed.

“Services must be completed before we can submit the plans. At the moment we are busy with the infrastructure and external works are on track.

“We can only go ahead with building the houses once we get that approval; in the past we used to work concurrently. So we can’t start pushing out the houses and it’s frustrating. It not only makes sense to start building and delivering the houses but now it looks like we can only start building by the end of the year.

“It’s frustrating as time costs money and instead of building in a practical way we have to build in a staggered process.”

Northern News visited the site and noted several excavators and concrete tunnels stacked at several points on the site and a builders’ construction compound close to the entrance. Several builders were busy on site levelling ground and racing around in trucks along the newly levelled roads.

The number of houses is anticipated to be 365 on a single residential erven, down from the original 372 planned, to accommodate the stormwater design.

About 40 “top structure houses” are being planned for MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe) veterans as confirmed by Mr Adriaanse last year, and the original occupant who lived in a house on the site for the past 18 years is to be given as new house for her and her family. The woman who does not want her name mentioned will also be given the title deeds to the house.

Three sites will also accommodate apartment blocks, located in various positions on the project site.

Northern News approached the City regarding the issue of the building plan approval and was referred to the Department of Human Settlements. Muneera Allie of the department’s communication and stakeholder relations directorate outlined the process which had to be followed:

Once a developer gains access to the land (following a separate process before then which involves the conclusion of a land availability agreement), various approvals and authorisations are then required before the building of top structures, i.e: houses. These approvals are provided from various entities, including national departments, provincial departments and relevant local government/municipalities. Approvals required include: environmental authorisation; heritage authorisation; bulk service allocations which includes sewerage, stormwater and electricity capacity; and, town planning approvals (zoning and subdivision approvals).

Once all approvals are in place, building plans are then submitted and approved in order to commence with top structures. It should be noted that the process of attaining the various approvals can take some time, also since various entities are involved.

“The above is a brief outline of the process. With specific regard to Highbury, the City of Cape Town may be better placed to respond to the process of specific approvals if required,” she said.

When Northern News approached the City again, mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe, said: “After all the legalities regarding the establishment of a township have been concluded and the town planning requirements have been met, a building plan submission is possible.

“A building plan application basically consists of three elements, namely town planning approval, availability of services and lastly, compliance of the top structure with the provisions of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (Act 103 of 1977 as amended).

“In the case of Highbury Park Phase 3, an application for sub-division has been submitted to the Tygerberg District Office which is currently in process. The services plans must still be approved by the various internal departments.

“The City can confirm that the contractor is busy with site preparation”.