Call for comment on rezoning plan

Melkhout Crescent has not attracted any interest after months of advertising for suitable residential tenants. An application has been made for the property to be rezoned to build new offices.

First Plan, a town and regional planning company, has applied to rezone a property in Hout Bay to permit the construction of offices.

The application calls for the property to be rezoned from Single Residential to General Business Subzone (GB1).

In recent years council has refused development application on properties nearest to the ocean, due to sea level rising. The footprint cannot be expanded for commercial purposes, without a sea level rising study, which is expensive. With this in mind, First Plan intends to make use of the existing structures within the current footprint.

The company argues that due to the location of the property, and the impact of the opposite commercial uses and associated delivery activities in front of the property, it is clearly not a desirable single residential address any longer.

The property, which is located opposite the Checkers loading bay in Melkhout Crescent, has not gained any interest after months of advertising for suitable residential tenants.

Dr Penny Brown, a member of the Hout Bay Ratepayers’ Association, insists that the proposal should not be supported as allowing it will compromise the area. 

“It will more than likely result in the City of Cape Town having to spend rates unnecessarily on trying rectify future problems,” said Dr Brown.

The Hout Bay public library, which is a short walk away from the property, has often had problems in regards to sewage and water levels pushing back.

“The manhole cover in front of the library, frequently pops off in front of the library due to this area being in a flood plain,” adds Len Swimmer, another member of the Hout Bay Ratepayers’ Association.

Dr Justin O’Riain, a Hout Bay resident and Professor at the University of Cape Town, confirmed that the library is one of the lowest points in all of Hout Bay. “In late summer, when the sandbar has formed and the lagoon waters get deeper, the river water backs up the stormwater pipe and flows into the road in front of the library,” said Dr O’Riain. “This triggers the City to breach the sand bar and ruins the historical inundation of the lower wetlands in the summer months.”

William Bowler, chairperson of the Hout Bay Residents’, Ratepayers’ and Heritage Association, said after due consideration by the association’s consultant on land use matters, they stand by their non-objection to the rezoning of Erf 2576.

“With most of the adjacent properties being zoned for business, it would be entirely unreasonable for us to object to this small property being similar zoned. If an application is made for inappropriate departures to the conditions of the title, particularly as regards to height or the possibility that the departure will create the risk of flooding, our association will object at the time.”

According to the land-use-application documents, the approval of this application would bring the property more in line with the character of the surrounding mixed use intensification area. The documents attempt to reassure residents that the proposal provides sufficient off-street parking, and that due to the location of the property, the application will have no negative impact on traffic.

In terms of Section 16(1) of the Municipal Planning By-Law, the proposal does not comply with the Southern
District Plan in that the proposed business use is located outside a mixed use designation area.

The stances of the locals in Hout Bay seem to be quite mixed, with some encouraging the proposal and others strongly opposing it.

“Offices on a beach-side property? Why not rather build a boutique hotel or apartments, with a sea view,” said resident Deborah Saint.

“Why not? It’s a dead area,” said resident Neville Frost.

Residents have until Monday April 29 to submit comments or objections.