New zoning plan may spark row in Mother City

If the second draft of the city's proposed zoning scheme is approved later this year, residents of Cape Town could soon find themselves
living between three-storey bed-and-breakfasts and guesthouses.

And others, whose properties would fall next to business or commercial zones, have learned that they could see a 62m high-rises sprout up next door and their living environments becoming concrete jungles.

They will also not be able to raise any objections and their neighbours will not have to ask their or the council's permission to go ahead with such a development.

These proposed changes in the second draft of the Cape Town integrated zoning scheme and have sparked concern among civic associations throughout the city.

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Civic associations across the city are planning a meeting at a central venue to discuss their concerns about the draft and are calling for a extension of the deadline for the public participation process, which is currently set at May 11, to get more response from residents.

The scheme in question is a city initiative to standardise the 27 different zoning schemes applicable to Cape Town.

The change is aimed at reducing the administrative burden involved in plan approvals.

The scheme looks at the rights of single residential zones, business zones, overlaying areas, mixed-use zones, open space zones and industrial zones, among other things.

The first draft was publicised in July. Since then, the scheme has undergone various cosmetic changes and is now in its second phase of public comment.

As part of the process, residents are encouraged to attend presentations that explain the zoning and view the maps, which are available in the council's offices, to see what their zoning rights and their neighbours' zoning rights are.

This should show what the development possibilities of the new scheme are.

But residents who have looked through the documentation fear that the new zoning scheme, if approved, will threaten their properties, invade their privacy, take away their views, cause their property values to plummet and spoil the historical sites in the city.

With the mooted scheme relaxing building lines, giving the go-ahead to a second dwelling on a property and allowing bed-and-breakfasts in residential areas - no questions asked - some residents have expressed concern that residential areas could soon become a hive of "bed and breakfasts".

Those with properties next to business or commercial zones fear their areas would change radically and become ugly high rise areas.

Earlier this week civic organisations from Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant, Vredehoek, Tamboerskloof, University Estate and Walmer Estate gathered at the Bo-Kaap Museum to discuss their qualms.

"The council is treating us like ignorant people. They seem to be fast-tracking this before anyone can say anything, which is unfair," said Cedric Thomas, of the University Estate Residents Association.

"We are concerned about the residential gentleman, the normal family, who suffers when 'Mr Big Bucks' moves in next door and builds up and out. We need to stop the council," he said.

Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, agreed, saying they needed more time to acquaint themselves with the zoning integrated policy.

"We need to have enough opportunity to find out how it is going to affect us."

Linda Helfet of the De Waterkant Residents Association, said: "For me it feels that the scheme is biased entirely toward the developers and not for the right of the resident in a city based on the quality of life."

Taki Amira, chairperson of the Kenridge Hills Ratepayers Association, said they had problems with council allowing three-storey buildings in a single residential zone and relaxing building lines so residents could build right up to the fence.

Architect and conservationist Steve Townsend, who worked for the city council for many years, suggested that the best way forward was for the council to do a proper three-dimensional representation of what is permitted in every existing zone and to contrast this with a similar representation of what would be permitted in every new zone in the new scheme to illustrate the changes.

The City of Cape Town said it could only comment in the next day or two.

  • This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on April 07, 2005
Article by: Candice Bailey - http://www.iol.co.za