Plan a thorn in Rosedale residents’ side

Residents of a security estate in Durbanville have accused the City of Cape Town of acting in bad faith by allowing a high-density development to go ahead despite 169 pages of submissions by objectors being “lost” when the decision was made.

Eighteen double-storey units are to be built on about 5 000m2 of land where a historic manor house stands and which will have to be demolished. All the trees will have to be removed to make way for the new section, to be called Rosedale Manor.

Colin Koen, chairman of the Rosedale Estate Home Owners’ Association, said that besides what they believed to be a flawed process followed by council, the development did not fit the character of the area and had scared some homeowners.

The association has appealed to Premier Helen Zille to investigate the process.

In an email sent on June 5, he wrote: “We need to state clearly that the objection is not aimed against development, but at inappropriate development being pushed through by means of a flawed process. It is this we request the Office of the Premier to investigate.”

He added that the association’s legal team had launched a “Promotion of Access to Information” application to council asking for the full planning record and copies of all correspondence and meetings between the City and developers Rosdev Trust.

Mr Koen, a structural engineer, said the 169 missing pages had contained nine submissions – including reports and interviews – that accompanied an appeal in front of the council’s Planning and General Appeals Committee (PLANAP). He said the chairman of the committee also declined to meet to discuss this.

Resident Charlene Smith and her family have been living at the estate for seven years. If the double-storey units are built, threewill look into her bedrooms, lounge area, and pool and braai area. “It will be the end of our privacy as we know it,” she said.

Ms Smith said while she understood the need for housing, it would have been possible to design units that fitted in. When asked how the 169 pages could go missing, Dirk Smit, council Speaker and also chairman of the Planap, confirmed that some of the submissions of objectors were inadvertently omitted from the report.

“However, the submissions, which were included, canvassed all of the issues which were raised in the objections which were omitted,” he said.

On why he refused to meet the objectors, Ms Smit said the Planap Committee was functus officio (the principle in terms of which decisions of officials are deemed to be final and binding) and so could not reconsider the issue as a matter of law.

“Hence, the meeting request was declined.” Mr Smit added that after investigating the matter, the council’s legal services department found that nothing in the omitted submissions was not in the reports considered by Planap, and that the appellants had made a presentation to the committee which dealt with the issues raised in the omitted submissions.

“The conclusion of the legal advice was that there was substantive, if not technical, compliance with the requirements of procedural fairness.”

– Cape Argus