Rezoned from farm to housing

The piece of land, as seen from Saxdown Road, has been rezoned.

A pocket of farmland in the heart of the mushrooming northern suburbs will be rezoned to make way for 22 houses, but residents are worried it will aggravate already congested traffic in the area.

Last month, the Municipal Planning Tribunal granted an application to rezone a triangular-shaped stand, slightly bigger than a rugby field, from agriculture to “subdivisional area”.

The land along Saxdown Road was once part of Farm Langverwacht – an island of farmland in a sea of suburban sprawl.

It is now set to become an extension of the gated Rosemary Estate.

However, the rezoning was conditional. At the behest of the City’s water and sanitation department, the developer will have to include grey-water harvesting in the plans “in order to reduce water demand and sewer flows”.

Residents have questioned whether infrastructure in the area can carry more houses.

The City says it can, but in her objection letter, Kuils River resident Tracey Demas asked the City to freeze all new developments in Kuils River because of the impact of “existing unacceptable traffic conditions”.

“What baffles me is that the City of Cape Town has been aware of these problems for years and the excuse has always been a funding problem. Further development at this stage should not even be a consideration,” she said.

Ms Demas said she had written “hundreds” of emails to officials and councillors “but it seems everybody is turning a blind eye to the plight of the people in our community”.

Kuils River is among the top-three areas with the worst traffic congestion in the city.

Recently, Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said: “Our information shows that commuters in the Kuils River, Kommetjie and Blaauwberg areas travel on average twice as long during the peak period compared with the off-peak period to reach their destinations. The peak period in these areas extends for three hours as compared with the two hours elsewhere in the city.”

In response to Ms Demas’s objection, Zain Abrahams of Q8 Africa, a project management company, on behalf of the applicant, property owner Michael Hendricks, said: “Local government has developed new road and road infrastructure, notably the new Saxdown Road that passes this development. Saxdown Road has opened and I have personally witnessed how this has improved the traffic flow. The additional off-ramps and on-ramps at the R300 and Bottelary interchange will also improve traffic flow.”

But Ms Demas disagrees. “There is no easing off of congestion,” she said.

Ms Demas said she had been “fighting with the City since 2008” about the on-going developments in the area without the proper road infrastructure.

“I’ve been travelling on these roads for many, many years,” she said. “They need to make another intersection to the R300, preferably between Bellville and Belhar.”

According to the City’s integrated transport planning department, the new development, comprising 22 houses, would not “significantly impact on existing traffic conditions”.

Mr Herron said since the opening of the Bottelary off-ramps and Saxdown Road, the City had noticed “a reduction in the number of the complaints related to traffic congestion in the vicinity of these improvements which is an indication that the traffic flow has improved”.

There were “still some bottlenecks”, he added, for example, the section of Bottelary Road between Saxdown Road and Amandel Road, but the City was in talks with the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works to address them.

“In the meantime, the City will continue to monitor the traffic flow in these areas,” he said.