Upset over housing proposal

Civic organisations believe the Ottery Youth Centre and land adjacent to it will be used as part of the Greater RetreatHousing project.

Talks of housing have taken centre stage across the country and a bit closer to home – in Ottery specifically.

Fairways Residents’ and Civic Association (FRESCA) as well as the Ottery Civic Association have been vocal about new housing developments in the area and news of another one has some ratepayers raising concerns.

According to the associations, talks of a housing development in Plantation Road have come up but claim no notifications or further information has been sent out by local or provincial government about plans.

What residents are aware of is the development along Columbine Avenue and Koraal Road where the Department of Human Settlements plans to build 72 houses and 12 flats in Ferness Estate.

The period for comments and objections closed in September.

Word quickly spread about another possible development plan in Plantation Road – specifically at the Ottery Youth Centre, previously known as the School of Industries.

A meeting will be held later this week to table concerns which include an increase in traffic volumes, increased risk to safety and security and the impact on property values in the area.

Fresca chairperson Demetri Jegels said the association agreed that there was a need for their neighbours in Parkwood to be provided with suitable housing but that the proposed development was not suitable and did not consider the impact on the surrounding communities.

He said the development of potentially 5 000 units could see up to 35 000 people from across the city settling in the area.

“Some of the proposed dwellings include four-, three and two-storey flats along the boundary between the School of Industries and the properties of First Avenue.

We have to object to the proposed development in its current form. We have been told that we have a NIMBY (no in my backyard) attitude and that we can object as much as we want to, but this development will happen.”

Mr Jegels added there had been no public participation for the upcoming projected development.

“We want to know exactly what is going on and we want to have input because we already have so many problems in our areas and we need to know how all of these developments are going to holistically affect all the different communities.

We understand the need for change but then it must be on the basis of proper community consultation, taking into account the position every community finds itself in with high crime levels, social ills and other issues.”

In email correspondence, the Ottery Civic Association asked residents to attend the meeting.

“We have a City with development plans based on the fact that Ottery is a well established suburb with the required infrastructure to accommodate all their development plans for thousands and thousands of new families to take up residents in Ottery,” it wrote.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said the City’s development management department had received no land use applications nor had it had any meetings with any developers regarding the potential of such development.

“Should such an application be submitted for processing and consideration by the City, the application process will involve a public participation process during which interested and affected parties can submit their concerns/comments/objections.”

Ms Nieuwoudt said if and when a land use application was submitted the surrounding property owners and registered community organisations would be given the opportunity to comment or object during the public participation period.

“Once advertised, the details of how and where such comments or objections can be submitted will form part of the communication.”

MEC for Human Settlements Tertuis Simmers said the proposed plan was part of the Greater Retreat Project, which included 245 properties stretching across wards and over a combined 349 hectares of land – with 32 identified for further investigation.

Mr Simmers said the Plantation Road site was in Ward 63 (Ottery) and had a 30-hectare footprint available for development. “With this site we are proposing a mixed-use development which will comprise Breaking New Ground (BNG), Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) and social housing and rental units.”

He said the Department of Human Settlements had appointed a full professional team which includes, engineers, planners, architects and others.

“These professionals will make sure the necessary issues related to traffic impact assessments are concluded in the final planning submissions. All our developments within the Cape Metropole are developed with the citizens in mind, citizens need to ensure that they maintain their homes and make improvements as their circumstances improve”.

He said other things considered included education, health, local economic empowerment and social facilities and said with any development, residents will be afforded the opportunity to make any input which they deem fit and that a project steering committee would be established.

The meeting to discuss will take place tomorrow, Thursday November 12, from 7pm, at the hall of the school of industries in Plantation Road.