Constantia residents are up in arms over plans to “suburbanise” the Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate that will allow it to build 30 houses and expand its hotel from 16 to 28 bedrooms. The plan includes building a new winery, relocation of the stables and workshop and building a new house for the farm manager.
The Constantia Property Owners’ Association (CPOA) claims that the development would set a devastating precedent for the “suburbanisation” and commercialisation of the historic Constantia wine farms. They have vowed to use every avenue open to them to prevent the development.
Lawrie Mackintosh, chairman of the Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate says that they have received a number of objections aimed at preventing development and points out that a meeting with the CPOA is due to take place next week.
The CPOA has voiced its concern over the environmental impact of the development and says that it is due to receive a copy of the environmental impact assessment being done by Doug Jeffery Environmental Consultant within the next few weeks.
The development plans indicate that workers on the estate will become owners and shareholders in Constantia Uitsig and if the development goes ahead it will be the first successful land reform initiative in the Constantia Valley.
However, the CPOA has accused the developers of using the land reform initiative to persuade the authorities to approve the development so that they can go ahead.
“Our association views land reform as a creditable initiative but this should be motivated by the merits and should not be linked to obtaining planning permission for sub-division and rezoning for commercial and residential development on farm land that is with the urban district of Cape Town,” the CPOA claims in a newsletter circulated to members.
The CPOA says that the neighbouring farms of Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia and Groot Constantia constitute the central agricultural anchor of the Constantia-Tokai Valley.
Constantia Uitsig is close to Steenberg farm, another anchor on the scenic Spaanschemat River Road and according to the CPOA, all the historic farms may be nominated for inclusion of the World Heritage List.
Mackintosh disputes this and says that he believes it is highly unlikely that any farms will be included on the Heritage List. “Anyway, our development will not change the vineyards and there are no buildings on the farm that have particular significance in terms of heritage,” says Mackintosh.
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