Questions over tribunal’s decisions

Durbanville councillors want the City to revisit town planning by-laws, after its planning tribunal overrode their opposition to several applications.

The issue was discussed at last month’s Sub-council 7 meeting, where councillors heard that the Municipal Planning Tribunal had approved two recent applications – despite their objections.

Two of these applications were for nursery schools in the same road in Eversdal. One application was for 11 children and three teachers and the other was for 20 children, aged from three months to a year and a half, as well as four to five teachers.

The second application drew 21 objections: residents and nearby businesses argued it would lower property values and disrupt the peaceful character of the neighbourhood and that there were already five nursery schools in a 2.5km radius.

One of the objections read: “Kendal Road is a main thoroughfare in Eversdal and is congested with vehicles during peak hours. This is creating extreme time delays for vehicles wanting to exit Eversdal.”

In his objection to the application for the 20 children, Ward 21 councillor Taki Amira agreed it would cause more traffic problems and aggravate existing ones. He said he had received many traffic-calming requests as well as complaints about speeding on Kendal Road. Residents had also complained about not being able to get in and out of their driveways.

At the sub-council meeting, proportional representative councillor Franklyn Raymond said he was concerned about the number of preschools and private schools getting the nod in residential areas.

“There were 21 objections, including one from the ward councillor, but it didn’t mean anything,” he said.

Mr Amira said the application should not have been approved when looking at the “appropriateness” of the facility, but the tribunal had found it to be compliant.

Mr Amira said a neighbour had played a recording of how much noise the nursery-school children made and what he had to put up with daily. The application for the 20 children had also not shown the pool on the premises.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, confirmed an aerial photograph submitted with the initial application had not shown the pool in the property’s backyard. The applicant in his appeal had told the tribunal that the backyard facilities had no bearing on the running of the nursery school.

The tribunal’s chairman, Dave Daniels, said the two applications had been approved as they made enough of a provision for staff parking and the dropping off and picking up of children. They had also not triggered any title deed restrictions and were in line with council policies.

He said the applications had also been supported by the City’s environmental health department.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, said nursery-schools were inspected when applications were received and routine quarterly inspections followed once they opened.

“When an application is received, one of the requirements from the City’s health department is compliance with the applicable noise-control regulations. Should the application be approved, and if there is a contravention, it will be dealt with in accordance with the legislation,” he said.