Read SHF’s comments on various cases and projects below:
1. Kommentaar op nuwe soneringsvoorstelle
‘n Voorstel vir nuwe sonerings in Stellenbosch is vir kommentaar op die tafel. ‘n Nuwe soneringskema is wenslik omdat die munisipale gebied aansienlik gegroei het, met onder meer die insluiting van Franschhoek en landelike gebiede. In die konsep-dokument word onder meer voorsien vir gebruike (en dus regte) wat tevore nie op Stellenbosch toegelaat is nie. Hier is die Stigting se kommentaar:
Director: Planning, IHS & Property Management, Stellenbosch Municipality
5 October 2012
Integrated Zoning Scheme Regulations (IZS)
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed zoning scheme regulations.
Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa. It has local, national and international importance. The sustainable survival of Stellenbosch also depends on successful facilitation of tourism, that is on people who visit a destination outside their normal place of work or of where they live. Stellenbosch tends to receive the so-called cultural tourist, rather than the fun-seeking tourist that would visit, say, Durban. Studies indicate that the attractiveness of Stellenbosch lies in the scenic beauty and rural and historic character of the place. If we should lose these, we lose the vital sense of place and a key economic strength.
Zoning is a device of land use planning used by local government in most developed countries. It entails designating permitted uses of land, based on mapped zones which separate one set of land uses from another. Theoretically, the primary purpose of zoning is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible. In practice, zoning is used to prevent new development from interfering with existing residents or businesses and to preserve the character of a community/area.
Zoning may include the regulation of kinds of activities which will be acceptable on particular lots (such as open space, residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial); the densities at which those activities can be performed (from low-density housing such as single-family homes to high density such as apartment buildings); the height of buildings and the amount of space structures may occupy; the location of a building on a lot (building lines); and the proportions of types of space on a lot/erf, such as how much landscaped space, impervious surface and parking must be provided. In Germany, zoning includes building design, very specific green space and compensation regulations. The details of how individual planning systems incorporate zoning into their regulatory regimes vary, though the intention is always similar. Zoning schemes provide the factors that impact on desirable urban outcomes in a location.
Zoning schemes as regulatory frameworks ultimately shape the built and natural environment. Through zoning schemes, Councils control the size of buildings, the location of buildings, the density of development, and the manner in which land is used. A Zoning Scheme thus provides a key management tool for implementing planning policy relating to land use and the regulation thereof.
Zoning schemes depend on the natural and the built environment. Our first concern therefore is that the proposed IDZ is not Stellenbosch specific. The historic character of this town is not protected by the base IDZ document. We are aware that the historic area overlay zone is designed to do so, but this zone can be changed to fit Council’s policy of the day. Another relevant and valid question in this context would be: If Stellenbosch’s historic core is destroyed, overnight, in some natural disaster, will the zoning scheme ensure that the same character can be rebuilt? The answer to this question is no.
Our second concern is that the IDZ is not an integration of the existing schemes but rather a new typical zoning scheme where existing schemes are just fitted in. We are aware that the old schemes were far from perfect and needed upgrading, but proposed changes to residential zones, such as “additional uses” and definition of “family” may affect the character of neighbourhoods and will unnecessarily displace existing residents and businesses.
We will refrain from commenting in detail regarding the content of the base document as far as zones and development rules are concerned. We, however, suggest that you should afford interest groups (or their representatives) the opportunity to discuss concerns regarding the content and approach of the IDZ before the final recommendation is brought to Council. It would be in the best long-term interest of this town to consider appointing a review consultant with local government knowledge as well as intimate knowledge of the town.
We assume that the overlay zones were designed to protect the historic character of the designated areas, as protection is not embedded in the base document. As indicated above, our concern is that this protection might not be adequate. We therefore request that provision be made in the base document to protect the historical areas over and above the earmarks of the overlay zone.
- We support the “compulsory” appointment of a Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC), but recommend that committee members must be skilled/experienced in the subjects as indicated in paragraph 5.1.
- We do not agree that advertising of applications for special consent in the historic areas can be discretionary. The uses applied for could have a negative impact on the character and interest of such areas. Civil society has to be involved in the processes.
- We are concerned that the IZS does not provide for the protection of heritage sites or buildings of historic and cultural value outside of the designated heritage areas. The scope of the work of the HAC should not be limited to the designated heritage areas. The rural areas of Stellenbosch are part of the heritage of Stellenbosch. Many of the old (and not so old) homesteads have to be protected. In the remaining areas (outside the demarcated areas) of towns like Franschhoek, Pniel and Stellenbosch there are a number of old buildings with significant heritage value. We recommend that a mechanism be designed to protect these buildings and areas. We are willing to assist you in this regard.
- We support the demarcated Stellenbosch Historical area (HAO1) and also the general provisions applicable to heritage areas (7 and 9.1). We suggest, however, that the graded number be removed.
- We suggest that the special approval (9.1(b)) to increase the maximum height of 10 m in the historic areas be subject to advertising to interested parties and heritage groups.
- With regard to the waiving or reducing parking requirements (9.1(g)) we support the idea of maximum parking requirements in the historic area, and suggest that the parking bays not provided by developers could be paid for at rate required to construct a parking bay in a parking garage, or that parking bays in existing facilities be notarially linked.
Most of the towns in the Stellenbosch area of jurisdiction are almost fully developed. The redevelopment of erven in these historically significant areas needs to be properly managed. The basis IZS does not provide the necessary tools to manage redevelopment; for this reason, alternatives must be put in place.
Our support of the heritage overlay and general provisions is on conditions as set out above.
Land use and coverage concerns
The proposed general provisions guide and prescribe the built form, but have no influence on the land use. The previous zoning scheme regulations had clearly set out land uses, whilst the proposed document allows for uses that are not compatible with the existing character and use of the old town centres. We do not support the additional uses that can be exercised without approval, as proposed under the business zones. For example: boarding houses as primary use in the historic core of Stellenbosch may have unintended consequences. We acknowledge that the university is part of the town and that students bring a special energy into the town. However, the proposed scheme does not take into account that all or most of the flats, boarding houses and other high density developments are presently occupied by students and that this tendency has a negative impact on the town and community. We do not have a normal pattern where young working people and families occupy flats and then move to other residential areas. Students contribute to the local economy to a far lesser extent than families. Buildings occupied by students stand empty for four months of the year, with a detrimental long term impact on the provision of essential services and security. The present proposal do not provide for a number of such unique Stellenbosch issues. We do not support the proposed business zoning, as well as other residential zoning, in the present form.
We are furthermore concerned that the proposed increase in coverage and decrease in provision of open space will affect the provision of open spaces and living environment. The increase of coverage from 25% to 50% will mean that all parking have to be provided underground or elsewhere, away from the site. Basements prohibit the planting of trees, affect the water table and have a detrimental effect on existing trees. The trees of Stellenbosch have iconic value; the town is associated with trees in the centre of the town. The IZS must take this sustainability of such aspects into account.
We are, finally, concerned that the status of the Winelands Biosphere as approved by Unesco, provincial and Local Governments are not taken into account or acknowledged in the IZS. Both the natural and cultural landscapes are important and should be acknowledged in your proposals.
A number of proposals in the IZS need to be re-evaluated, with new input. It is not possible for us to provide comment or develop proposals on all aspect of the proposed IZS, without an interactive process. The IZS will have a big impact on land use rights and the character of Stellenbosch. We need to pay close attention to the ambiguities of language and the precision needed for definitions. We furthermore need to take account of the sense of place and of potential unintended consequences of new regulations. A zoning scheme is a strategic document: it must allow for doing things right, as well as for doing the right things. We believe the present proposals need further evaluation and discussion. Should our comments and those of other interested parties not be taken into account, we register our concerns and suggestions as objections. We trust you will understand our concern.
Hannes van Zyl
Chairperson: Stellenbosch Heritage Foundation