Struisbaai residents furious about development

Struisbaai Development

Read : 183 times
R News

An enormous development right next to the sea on Struisbaai at the southernmost tip of the country has residents hot under the collar.

Construction on what is believed to be a four-storey apartment building on “erf 1252” is already underway, with a large stretch of pristine Strandveld fynbos being torn out to make way for this new concrete giant along the coast.

However, residents are in the dark about what exactly the developers are planning and whether the development meets all legal requirements and regulations. The Cape Agulhas local municipality has so far not provided any clarification, nor responded to repeated inquiries from RNews.

According to a report in the local newspaper, Southern news, the planned apartment building in Marine Drive will reportedly stretch 16m into the air with ground level parking; and this only about 70 m from the coastline. Building plans were apparently approved last year.

The municipality did issue a notice earlier that construction will take place. However, it is understood that due to the vagueness of the notice, residents probably did not realize its extent.

According to the initial report that was published in this newspaper, and whose information is used with permission by RNews, the plot in question on which the building is being built is indeed the only plot in private ownership. The rest of the plot of land – where natural fynbos flaunts for about 3 km continuously – belongs to the municipality.

The report in Southern news has provoked a tremendous response and it appears that many residents are extremely incensed.

The building will not only obstruct many residents’ sea view, but also spoil the pristine space.

Southern news reports that the owners of five properties overlooking the relevant erf contested the development in a letter to the municipality.

“A transfer deed of the property, drawn up in 2015, indicates that the property is zoned for business development.

“Strict conditions are set out in the title deed, including that the planned building will not occupy more than two-thirds of the plot and that a 3.15 m boundary line must be maintained. However, an aerial photograph of the building site indicates that the development complies with a 0 m building line, which means it will occupy the entire erf of 694 m².”

According to information provided to Southern news the title deed was amended in 2016 to remove all restrictions. Because the plot is zoned as a business premises, the ground floor may not be used for apartments. However, it is unclear what the developers will do on the ground level.

“The property owners contesting the development argue that they have not received any notice of a deviation from the zoning restrictions or the lifting of title deed restrictions.

“They also say that due to a technical error some plots in Struisbaai’s 2014 zoning plan were converted from a ‘business zone II’ (a local enterprise) to a ‘business zone I’ due to the wrong color indicated on the revised plan.

“This implies that plot 1252 (on which the development is taking place) has erroneously obtained full business rights, which allows for a development of 16 m high and does not have the 8 m restriction that applies to business zone II plots.”

Another issue that residents question is the location of the plot. Southern news reports that it falls within the 100 m high water mark, which poses a significant flood risk.

“According to the 2015 transfer deed, the property was transferred by Rich Rewards 77 (Pty) Ltd. sold to the Christo Enrico van Wyk trust for the sum of R2.5 million. It is unknown who now owns the property.”

Residents suspicious, looking for answers

RNews has learned confidentially that a resident submitted an application in terms of the Act on the Promotion of Access to Information (Paia) to the municipality to obtain the building plans, but that the owner of the plot apparently refused to comply. No reasons were provided for this.

A resident who spoke to RNews on condition of anonymity, says that this decision by the owner of plot 1252 reinforces the perception among residents that something is not right.

“Its planning has been kept very quiet and the municipality has also consistently promised residents that there is ‘nothing on the table yet’ in relation to erf 1252 and that they would keep us informed. It didn’t happen then.

“Suddenly one day the bulldozers are there. Residents who are directly affected, and who intended to make additions and improvements to their homes, had to put everything behind them first.

“How this zoning happened is also a mystery. It is the only seafront plot in a long strip of coastal area that stretches from Struis Bay to Agulhas. Can you imagine what this tall building will look like in the middle of a green area?

“An absolute ugliness!” the resident told RNews.

It is also not known how many apartments there will be.

“The owner keeps it a secret; it makes us even more suspicious.

“We have already sent several e-mails to the municipality with questions regarding the size of the building, as well as the violation of building regulations as we see it on the premises. They are just slow and vague with their answers.

“Actually, we are trying to stop the project because such a building does not belong in Struis Bay. There are no four-storey buildings on Struisbaai. It will do a lot of damage to the face of Struisbaai, because everywhere you go, you will see the ugly ‘tower’.”

RNews offered extended deadlines to the municipality for feedback and made repeated enquiries, but has yet to receive any feedback from the local authority about the development.

Sign up for Free Daily Building and Construction News