A STATEMENT FROM SEDGEFIELD RATEPAYERS AND RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Over two months ago, on 3 October 2022, the SRRA sent a formal letter to Knysna Municipality detailing key concerns as well as a list of related By-Laws that are being breached with little, or in most cases, no action being taken by the Municipality.
The continued lack of action sets a tone of acceptance which leads to the devaluing of properties in Sedgefield. To date, the SRRA still awaits a formal response to its letter, which tabled reasonable questions as to the responsibilities for ensuring conformance to the related By-Laws and by when the Municipality plans to deal with all the related important development planning aspects.
Many Sedgefield and Smutsville residents have waited patiently for Knysna Municipality to share updated details of the provision of housing projects and the required services. There have been unexplained delays with no real progress being achieved in the provision of housing where it is most needed in the Sedgefield community. Apparently, there are four ‘approved in principle’ housing projects which could accommodate approximately 300 Sedgefield/Smutsville families. The actual number is dependent on eventual site layout plans. Knysna Municipality has not yet brought these projects to fruition.
After receiving many queries from its members and several other interested parties, the SR&RA investigated why the housing projects appear to be stuck in a permanent hiatus.
Several cycles of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) have clearly listed housing as a top and urgent priority; however, nothing tangible has materialised other than various formal documentation of these needs for the community.
These delays have had consequences, including the large growth in informal settlers in the Sedgefield sensitive dune areas. These areas are not appropriately zoned or serviced. Further serious concerns caused by the land occupation are due to the topology, which is not suitable for the economic development of subsidised housing.
Examples of some of these By-Laws and queries are provided below.
• Municipal Planning Tribunal resolution 29 September 2020 where it was resolved that an amended General Plan (showing the rezoned land, erven 3861, 3865, 3866, 3917, 3918(A), for proposed mixed housing development) to be prepared by a Land Surveyor shall be submitted for approval to the office of the Surveyor General.
Query: Has the General Plan been amended? If so, was this sent to the Surveyor General and if formally approved, by what date was this done?
• Provision of formal Site Development Plans.
Query: If not done, who is responsible for this and by when will this work be completed?
• Provision of a Landscaping Plan on the land zoned for open space purposes and to the effect of creating a buffer shall be submitted to the satisfaction of the Director: Community Services.
Query: Who is responsible for this Landscaping Plan, and has it been completed for discussion with and approval of the Director: Community Services? If so, when was this done?
• Development shall not be undertaken before the Environmental Impact Assessment authorisation has been obtained.
Query: Who is responsible for obtaining this EIA authorisation, and by what date was this achieved?
• High-Density flat type dwellings. Although the SR&RA and other interested and affected public have made known that it doesn’t agree that the construction of low-cost higher-density flats will be suitable anywhere in Sedgefield,
Query: Has consideration been given to this type of development and discussed in public forums? What was the outcome of such consideration?
Public Safety: Veld fire prevention through firebreaks. For any informal settlement area, minimum safety requirements must comply. A safety distance of three metres between informal structures shall be maintained, and any settlement must be divided into blocks of not more than 20 structures, with a minimum distance of six metres between blocks. Additionally, a safety height of four metres from normal ground level free from any overhead obstructions shall be maintained.
Query: Who is responsible for ensuring and enforcing that these compliances are adhered to and when last were the Sedgefield informal dune areas checked that these compliances are being maintained? What process will be followed with “excess” structures/dwellings if the mandatory minimum spacing and blocks of informal structures have not been properly implemented?
Guidelines and parameters for buildings within the urban conservation area and critical biodiversity areas. The development or external aesthetic alteration of land or buildings on a scenic ridge line or within a core, buffer or agricultural area of a critical biodiversity area where it will be visible from the N2 National road are to be substantially compliant, to the satisfaction of the Aesthetics and Heritage Committee.
Query: Has Knysna Municipality or Council ever considered any draft plans for the development or the external aesthetic alteration of land or buildings located on this scenic ridge line?
These queries are but a sample of many that reference By-Laws and which are itemised in detail in SR&RA’s letter to the Acting Municipal Manager sent over two months ago. Not having received any formal reply from the Acting Municipal Manager, the SRRA followed up with another letter dated 28 November 2022 requesting that the Association be advised when the various queries will be answered. It was indicated in the second letter that some delay might be attributable to the change of Municipal managers, with Mr R Butler replacing Mr J Jonkers, who resigned rather suddenly during November. This more recent letter also indicates that once a formal reply answering their questions has been received, SR&RA Executive Committee representatives are very willing to meet with the AMM and other senior Municipal management for any discussions that may be necessary. Failing a substantive follow-up by KM, the SRRA will contact Province to see if they can assist with the process deadlock.
This issue is not about finger-pointing or blame; it is a simple endeavour to provide solutions for our residents and ratepayers. Sedgefield deserves better!