Developments in the Cape Point Peninsula- how can you have your say?

Billboard at the Kaolin development siteNew developments pop up like mushrooms in the Cape Point Peninsula, and one wonders where they are all going to go. Recently the City gave up its legal battle against the development at Dassenberg, which got the community up in arms, but this is by no means the only property project on the go at the moment in the Deep South, nor will it be the last.

Recently plans were approved for an additional complex on the site of the old Kaolin mine in Fish Hoek and the on going saga of the old oil refinery in Dido Valley is always on the boil.

I am no expert however, it is my understanding that in order to gain approval a development needs to go through certain stages, any one of which can cause it to not be passed. The first is being submitted for approval with the local authorities. If the plans are deemed appropriate and are approved by the planning committee then there has to be a period of public participation, giving all residents the opportunity to raise any objections that they may have. Larger developments also need to undergo such things as environmental impact assessments. Only then can the proposal be approved and go ahead.

Despite all this it is usually only at the point that security fences go up that the general public becomes aware of a development and decides that it is not in their interest for the building to go ahead, which is likely to be too late.

And we only have ourselves to blame because we don’t take enough notice of what is going on in our local communities.

Cape Point Chronicle recently got involved in the debate about the Dassenberg Development- being most upset about the lack of due process followed in the process of approval, however, other issues surrounding pressure on a strained infrastructure and the damaging of the environment were behind my anger over the proposal.

Facing this Dassenberg is the site of the development of the old Kaolin mine below Stonehaven. The development is for a security village and small private hospital. Despite putting further strain on the Cape Point Peninsula’s infrastructure this project at least followed proper procedure, and after completing its period of public participation and several other licensing issues regarding the hospital, the plan was approved.

If anyone has a problem with this then you had your chance. The developers took substantial lengths to make us all aware of the development including local press releases, bill boards at the site and a making a full set of plans available at Fish Hoek library (I read them last week, very comprehensive): there was probably a website. So, since no major objections were raised, and all else was in line with City by-laws the local council approved the plans.

So if you are against such developments the onus is on you to say something while you have the chance and not leave it until the foundations are being laid. There are three places where you can get information on proposed developments in your area. The first is your local library, all plans are displayed there: at Fish Hoek library there is a table inside the door, next to the counter, where a whole host of plans of different sizes are available.

Secondly, if the correct procedures are being followed then all planning applications need to be advertised. This may be something as simple as putting a notice on the wall outside a house, or could go as far as an advert in the local paper: a classic example is in last weeks Echo, in which a large advert on page 6 was placed to notify us all of a planned development in Dido valley (for more information go to Simons Town library or at http://dbass.biz.

Thirdly, if you are really interested, you could visit the planning office in Plumstead where all local plans are submitted for approval.

Its all a matter of keeping your eyes open, the onus is on the developers to follow certain rules, however, they don’t have to go to every single person and ask them for their express permission, they just have to go to reasonable lengths to inform the general public of their plans, the rest is up to you, and if you don’t act promptly you can’t complain about the buildings going up.

If you are like me then the general process of applying for planning permission is something you know little about, but it is very important that you are not tempted to ignore it if you are going to do building work on your own house. Not following the procedures could result in expensive building work having to be torn down (many a developer has thought they could force the planning departments hand by applying for planning permission after completing the work, however they have no problem with telling you to rip it down,) or in you having a house that you cannot sell in the future.

We are in the early stages of adding a little addition to our house and will need planning permission in order to do it so I will document the process on the blog- watch this space.

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