Drought causes feud over development

2018-03-27 06:00
The Rondebosch Oval development.

The Rondebosch Oval development.

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A local developer is urging residents to bear with them, as their alleged violation of the development agreement is reportedly due to unforeseen circumstances.

Rawson Developers say they understand the frustrations of residents with homes abutting the Rondebosch Oval development.

Gareth Griffiths, public affairs advisor for Rawson, says: “We apologise for the general disruption, which unfortunately is the norm in cases of construction projects of this kind, but has been aggravated by several external factors. We agree the blowing of sand by the wind is very unpleasant. However, when the project was conceived 11 years ago, nobody could have predicted the severe drought and water restrictions since the year 2017. In fact, if it were not for the prolonged community negotiations period, the project would have been completed prior to the drought.”

This development reportedly includes the construction of 41 luxury high-end townhouses at a value of R7.5 to R10m per unit. It also includes the rebuilding and refurbishing of the facilities of the historic Rondebosch Sports Club for the public, including a cricket club, gym, public bowling club and swimming pool. It comprises three phases with an anticipated duration of three years and is currently creating about 120 job opportunities. According to Griffiths the first phase, which is close to the controversial Moolenberg and Croft roads entrance, will be completed in September this year followed by phase two on the Park Road side to be completed in mid-2019. The completion of the last phase near the cricket B-field is expected to happen in late 2019.

Griffiths says the issue is due to water restrictions by the City. He says this has severely limited their ability to spray the sand with water, which is a usual tactic employed on building sites. He says after receiving complaints from the affected residents, the company introduced measures to limit the severity. “All sandy areas under construction have been mulched with straw to help bind the sand, at high cost. Full-time street sweepers are employed on site every day to ensure good housekeeping outside the site, which also assists with the removal of litter at the company’s expense. The company has assisted with pool and yard cleaning services for a number of neighbours and has sent gestures of apology to others.”

One complaint raised by resident Jane Turner is the alleged usage by Rawson of Moolenberg Road and the resulting blockage of the road, despite an agreement between the developer and residents.

She says: “In 2013 Rawson Developers reached an agreement with neighbours regarding the Rondebosch Oval development at the Alma Marist Sports Club in Rondebosch. As part of the negotiations, Rawson made a commitment that only the Park Road entrance would be used to access the site to prevent damage to roads from trucks. It would also not interfere with school traffic in Moolenberg Road. We were assured the entrance in Croft Road would be closed permanently. Throughout the development, trucks have continued to drive down Moolenberg Road and the Moolenberg and Croft roads entrance is still in daily use by construction vehicles of all types.”

Griffiths says: “Yes, we agreed to use a new entrance via Park Road, once approved by Council, as best humanly possible. And this we have done, bearing in mind that we do not always exercise control over the independent contractors who deliver to our site. It must be noted that the entrance on the corner of Moolenberg and Croft roads was always the original entrance to the Rondebosch Sports Club property. It was impossible to move on site without using this public road when works were started last year. Around two weeks ago, vehicles delivering supplies to the site were forced to use Moolenberg Road due to project planning schedules. Even so, we endeavoured to keep at least the concrete deliveries to Saturdays to avoid inconveniencing school users with heavy vehicle traffic.”

Mayco member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, says the City can assist if the developer has transgressed the zoning rights or City bylaws, but otherwise this is a matter between the developers and neighbours. He says the owners of the property followed due process in obtaining their rights and the building plans are now being submitted and approved in accordance with these development rights.

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