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Development application causes spat

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07 Jul 2010

Heritage agencies and developers have rarely had a warm relationship, but in Gordon’s Bay, a local architectural firm says what it regards as unreasonable objections are costing them their profits.

Gordon’s Bay’s Marcus Smit architectural firm is incensed that the Gordon’s Bay Village Action Group (GBVAG) intends to press on with an objection against an appeal for permission to deviate from zoning scheme regulations for renovations to a residential property, 53 Watt Street.

The proposed project would involve the addition of a new garage next to an existing one, a new first storey above the ground floor, and a relaxation of the front boundary line from 4,5 m to 0 m. The application was approved by both the municipality and sub-council but, due to the objection by GBVAG, must now go through provincial government.

The firm has described the opposition to the development as “unfair, uninformed and unjustified”, and is exasperated at the prospect of a lengthy waiting period after which they are convinced permission will be granted.

“An application like this should technically be finalised within three months. It is our opinion that the City of Cape Town should allow its regional officials to decide such applications. Instead, this specific application has been dragging on for five counter-productive months already, and final outcome is only expected in 12 to 18 months from now,” said Bennu Smit, draughtsman at Marcus Smit Architects. He said the proposal was sensitive to its surroundings, worked with the existing footprint, and that the house was of “no cultural or historical significance”.

But the GBVAG insists that it is their mandate to act as a watchdog against development that contravenes building regulations and that they are simply fulfilling their appointed task within the parameters of zoning schemes.

Barbara Louw, founder of the GBVAG, said the “very strict” regulations had to be upheld because the character of the village was at stake, having already been compromised by other developments.

“There are so many places where developers have come in and turned it upside down. This town must be serious and active about our heritage – it is our biggest asset. We are desperately trying to retain that heritage. We are terribly concerned,” said Louw. – West Cape News

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