Three-storey flats planned for Bronberg ridge Print E-mail
News - Ons Omgewing
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 02:00
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Three-storey flats are in the pipeline for the Bronberg ridge on plots 84/1 and 84/R in Achilles Road, Olympus. This in spite of the fact that the cological assessment of holding 84, a plot divided into four parts, recommends that no development takes place on the grassland and the woodland ridge community. Neighbour Jacques Naudé, from plot 83/4, said that the absolute opposite of these recommendations is now being planned. He said that the development affects areas that are clearly indicated by the report as sections that should not be developed.

The ecological assessment was done by Scientific Aquatic Services (SAS). According to SAS’s assessment report, development within the area is addressed by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE) Ridge Policy, which classifies the Bronberg as a class two ridge, and the Bronberg Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Both policy documents recommend that either no development or only low-impact development be considered.

Then - photo taken in November 2004 in Achilles Road


The Bronberg’s class two classification means that no further sub-divisions are allowed on this ridge, that a 200 metre buffer zone must be maintained where only lowimpact development must be allowed, that an ecological footprint of low-impact developments may not exceed five percent of the property and that all developments are subject to a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). According to SAS’ assessment report, the nature of the woodland ridge on holdings 84/1 and 84/R makes it likely that some red data species may occur.

The assessment report recommends that development should be low-impact, conservation-based and that it should not exceed 20% of the property size. It also recommends that no development be allowed on the northern portion of the property, north of the existing house. Development of the southern portion, if considered, should comply with the GDACE and Bronberg SEA policy documents.

Olympus residents state that a high-density development of 147 three-storey units could never be considered as a low-impact development. They also complain that the public participation process has been badly managed. Lourens Erasmus, from plot 84/3, called this public participation process a “comedy of errors”. He said that the first notices appeared at the premises in October 2007.

According to those notices, his plot was part of the development. He then appointed his own environmental consultant to help him with objections to the development. Neighbours received a notice for public participation in January. The necessary documentation, an issues register and ecological assessment report was supposed to be available at the Constantia Park Library.

Then ? photo taken in September 2002 in at is now known as Boardwalk Meander


However, Lourens said that the dates for the process were wrong. The documents were supposed to be there from 13 February. When he visited the library on 14 February, the documents weren’t there and the library staff didn’t know anything about it.

The viewing of the documents apparently ended on 25 February but residents don’t know when a public meeting will be held to allow them to discuss their objections with the developer, De Jongh Ontwikkelings, and the consultant, Bokamoso Environmental Consultants.

Olympus residents have been fighting a losing battle against densification. They now want to know what has happened to GDACE’s socalled green-belt area on the Bronberg ridge, because in Olympus this green belt and its red-data species are under severe threat.In December 2003 already, The Bronberger reported that Olympus residents have had enough of densification.

Smallholders got together to form the Concerned Olympus Residents Group (Corg), which approached provincial authorities with an urgent request for a moratorium on the approval of any further development in Olympus until the provincial authorities could broker a meeting with Kungwini to find a mutually acceptable solution to the environmental and infrastructure issues in Olympus.

After years of study and public participation meetings around the creation of the Bronberg SEA, GDACE became suspiciously quiet about the issue in 2004.

New policy
In November 2004 The Bronberger reported that GDACE announced a new policy for Olympus, one of “utilising land optimally by promoting high-density development”. GDACE’s reason for promoting high-density residential development in this area was that densification would contribute to social integration and the building of sustainable communities.

GDACE stated that high-density development releases pressure on undeveloped agricultural land outside the urban edge. However, just a few months before this announcement, Olympus was still considered to be an agricultural holding area.

According to GDACE, densification is desirable from an environmental and socio-economic perspective because it ensures optimal use of existing infrastructure networks. However, these infrastructure networks - such as roads, electricity, water supply and sewage - were not designed to deal with the urban densification.

In July 2005 The Bronberger reported that Olympus smallholders were experiencing severe infrastructure problems. The latest problem then added to a growing list was that of erratic water supply. In a letter to residents, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry admitted that the problem of erratic water supply to Olympus was due to the existing network which was not designed to accommodate new developments. The roads, particularly Ajax and Achilles Roads, also weren’t designed to handle such an increase in traffic. In December 2005 The Bronberger reported that Olympus residents refused to give up the fight against densification and that they kept protesting against each new township establishment.

They have lost almost every single battle. Now for the first time they are dealing with densification right on top of the Bronberg ridge. The ecological assessment report written about development on portion 84, Olympus clearly states that development should comply with the GDACE Ridge Policy and the recommendations made in the Bronberg SEA.

The question is whether GDACE still deems such policies and recommendations appropriate to an area which went from agricultural to high-density cluster homes within about five years.

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