The tragic ineptitude of our city planners and traffic department

All of us who live in Hout Bay have at one time or another been caught up in a stream of traffic crawling up or down Main Road between the bottom of the hill and Constantia Nek.  Many of us have also experienced a moment of sheer terror as some idiot driver executes a death-defying move around one of the sharp and steep bends on this section of road, with minimum adequate sight lines.

Lying to the east of this hill section, starting just to the north of Northoaks Private Estate and ending halfway up the hill, is Linden Farm.  It used to be covered in olive trees but over the past 5 or so years those have been taken out.  A couple of months ago earthworks could be seen being undertaken on the property and there is now an earth berm erected on the property’s roadside boundary so one cannot see what is going on, on the erf.

What is going on is the start of a property development of 40 units.  When this scheme was mooted in the early 2000s property owners in the area and the Hout Bay Residents’ Association (as the HBR&RA was known then) objected.  Besides the standard arguments about inadequate infrastructure in general to cope with the ever increasing and inappropriate densification of Hout Bay, to which our planners and politicians always turn indoctrinated blind eyes anyway, clearly being more interested in developers’ rights than the rights and interests of the public which are violated by the project concerned, the principal objection to the project was that the one exit from Linden Farm is onto Hout Bay Main Road halfway along the dangerous steep and winding Constantia Nek section described above.   Of course if the long talked about (for more than 40 years now) new Highlevel Road from Constantia Nek, along the Constantiaberg and down into Hout Bay, were constructed, this danger would be averted.

However, as you will have guessed, none of the sensible arguments against this ill-conceived development on Linden Farm prevailed.

Now, building on Linden Farm has begun and two adjacent property owners have written to the HBR&RA pointing out once again the increase in road hazards in the area which will result.  In response the HBR&RA chairman wrote to Cllr Brett Herron, Mayco member: Transport for the City of Cape Town on the following lines:

Dear Councillor Herron,

The approval of this new development on Hout Bay Main Road is pure madness – I know full well that you are not responsible for this irrationality by the City Planners in Plumstead, but please let us know when and if the Hout Bay High Level Road will be built. The City spent over ½ a million Rand on a consultant’s feasibility study on building this High Level Road (by Ms van Hohenoort, which was very positive) and we all thought that this road would then be built – that was about 10 years ago. Now the High Level Road is much overdue, as Bobbie Fitchen (one of the adjacent property owners) says: “It seems counter-intuitive and blatantly irresponsible to allow endless development without considering infrastructure”.

I look forward to your response.

Kind Regards,

In reply we received the following email:

Dear Mr Swimmer

 The development you are referring to is the development on Erven 1592 & 1630 Hout Bay commonly known as the Linden Farm development. The subdivision was approved on the 10th September 2008 with a limit of 40 residential units. The proposed access is off the existing Main Rd with a right turn lane. The site (sic) distance required for this access have (sic) been carefully looked at. This development is also required to transfer the portion of road reserve for the high level road to the City.

The high level road through Hout Bay is still on the City’s approved road network plan and the road reserve has been protected through the years. The City supports the construction of this road to address the safety issues experienced along the existing historical road. The first phase of this road project would be in the order of a R100 million project (4 km long from Constantia Nek to Bethal Road ). The challenges to the implementation of this scheme include the availability of funds and environmental authorisation.  There will be public consultation during the EIA and Environmental Scoping process where the public will be given an opportunity to raise any concern / issue that must be addressed and mitigated as part of the project. Since the environmental authorisation has a limited validity period, we do not commence this lengthy EIA process unless there is an intent to implement within 3-5 years. A plan of the proposed High level Hout Bay Main Rd is shown below for easy reference.



 Cllr Brett Herron

Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town

Councillor: Ward 57

So there we have it.  It is clear that:

·        The City has no intention whatsoever of building the much-needed High Level Road within the next 5 years, at the very least.  With the overwhelming diversion of property owners’ rates into the bottomless pit represented by the continually expanding informal settlements in the Metropole, it seems unlikely that this essential conduit into our ever more densely populated valley – encouraged by the city planners & politicians of all parties – will become a reality in any current Hout Bay resident’s lifetime.

The City’s traffic department has closed ranks behind its dubious decision to allow another 40 households to lead into the Hout Bay Main Road on the most dangerous section of its entire length.