TOO MANY HOUSES: the approved development of the Dassenberg property situated "in the bend" of Ou Kaapse Weg - shown here in this digitally stitched picture above Sun Valley on the right and Crofters Valley, Noordhoek on the left - should have been drastically scaled back, according to the provincial Planning Advisory Board.

JOHN YELD

Environment & Science Writer

THE PROPOSED development of the controversial Dassenberg housing estate adjoining Ou Kaapseweg above Sun Valley should be “drastically” scaled down from 130 houses to just 57 and the development layout redesigned, says the province’s Planning Advisory Board.

The quasi-independent board, which advises Western Cape planning and environment MEC Anton Bredell, came to this unanimous conclusion last year, after being asked by Bredell to make recommendations about an appeal against the City of Cape Town’s refusal to approve subdivision.

The board found that the 78.74ha property, in the bend of Ou Kaapseweg, had a “high-profile and strategic position on one of the City of Cape Town’s prime metropolitan scenic routes and ranks highly in terms of public interest”.

It slammed the planning law on which the development proposal relied as “a repugnant piece of apartheid legislation” and said the layout was “generally not considered to be desirable and in the public interest, as the development would be highly visible from many vantage points around the site”.

Bredell’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning disagreed, arguing that the site was “not particularly visible” from Ou Kaapseweg and that “many studies have indicated the suitability of the site for the type of development proposed”.

The province conceded: “It is clear that despite previous approvals serious concerns about the desirability of the placement, character and impact of the proposed subdivision… still remain”.

It noted that the “competent authority” (province) had already approved the proposed subdivisional layout in terms of required rezoning and environmental go-ahead under Nema (the National Environmental Management Act). This had been done in the dying hours of the ANC administration by then environment and planning MEC Pierre Uys in April 2009, in controversial circumstances.

In August last year, Bredell’s department told him: “A significant alteration of the subdivisional layout (as proposed by the Planning Advisory Board)… at this stage would be legally indefensible, as (the MEC) has effectively committed himself to the relevant layout plan in terms of the Nema and Lupo (Land Use Planning Ordinance) approval already issued.”

In August 2009, the developer applied to the city to subdivide the property. But the city refused, so the developer appealed to Bredell to overturn this refusal. Bredell upheld the appeal and approved the subdivision, but first referred the matter to the Planning Advisory Board. The board conducted a site visit last April and

noted that Dassenberg was “the first gateway to the Table Mountain National Park for commuters and tourists travelling north along Ou Kaapse Weg from Sun Valley”.

It said the only planning guidance the development application complied with and relied on was the 1988 Guide Plan, “a repugnant piece of apartheid legislation”.

It said McHargian sieve maps, whereby analytical maps of the site are overlaid to summarise which parts of a property are suitable for development and which are not, had not been used.

“If a McHargian sieve map approach had been followed, it is clear development… would have been confined to a few clusters of land characterised as being visually less sensitive, off steep slopes, and that avoid disrupting the ecological functioning of the site,” it stated.

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