The RPA’s function relating to town planning and development, and the parameters to which the RPA must confine itself, is an oversight responsibility. Our responsibility concerning town planning is to ensure the municipality adheres to all environmental laws and regulations, building codes, by-laws, approval processes, etc. We do not see it as our function to promote or discourage development; we must be neutral, and with everything else, insist on good governance in the process. There is adequate legislation to weed out the good from the bad, if everyone follows the correct procedures. We should not try to influence decisions that are best left to professionals to make.
The town planning matters we are monitoring include:
ERF 156 below Signal Hill: there has been an outstanding demolition order since 2016 which we are motivating to be actioned. There are rumours of a boutique hotel proposal awaiting approval to be built on the property, which we will ensure follows proper procedure for public participation, does not exceed the allowable height, does not impair the view from Signal Hill, follows proper zoning procedure, does not affect neighbouring property values, and has no conflicts of interest involved, to name but a few of the issues at stake.
ERF 4367 – (Between the N2 and Santini Village):
Monitoring this development closely, we have noted the project has recently changed from a middle-income development to low-cost housing. When there is a major change in the project as this is, it needs to go back to the beginning and follow the process again for approval. We are ensuring all the approval procedures and building codes are followed, no matter how long it takes.
The Bungalow: proper zoning of The Bungalow has been an issue, as well as parking encroachment on the historic site of The Timber Shed, which the municipality must not allow.
Spatial Development Framework: the December council agenda said the municipality intends to make changes to the Spatial Development Framework, which lays out where future development in Bitou has been mapped and approved, and are proposing circumventing the normal public participation process due to Covid restrictions. The SDF took years for Bitou to approve, and we see no reason to hastily change it, without thorough knowledge of what those changes will entail. Rather than change the SDF over the holidays in a dark room, we are insisting on full transparency of what is proposed, and a full Public Participation Period, even if it must be held post-Covid.
We shall keep you informed on these and other town planning issues in the coming year.