Answers sought

Ann Stirling Roberts, Somerset West

On May 1, I wrote to Elden Swart at Helderberg College to ask him to substantiate a statement he made in Bolander which claimed that public comments were incorporated into the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) report.

His response was merely to repeat that the college complied with a requirement by Heritage Western Cape (HWC) to inform the City of Cape Town (CoCT) Heritage Department and a local conservation body – Helderberg Renaissance – of the HIA.  I have never disputed this.

My point was that no member of the local community was given a chance to comment on the report, and that the college did not comply with the conditions of approval by HWC in this respect.

Mr Swart goes on to state that “no heritage resources are negatively impacted”.  This statement is not true. Page 22 of the HIA states “it is however the visual sensitivity and exposure of the site from afar on a prominent landmark ridge-line bordering Stellenbosch that must be considered the primary heritage indicator”. 

Building on this exposed  ridge-line would most certainly have a negative impact on a heritage resource. 

Furthermore, Harewood Avenue has been confirmed by the CoCT as a heritage resource.  Mr Swart has not responded to my question as to why the HIA omitted to state that access to the proposed development would be via Harewood Avenue.

Finally, Mr Swart states: “I believe that this matter has been discussed ad nauseam”.  This is a most offensive statement and shows exactly the disdain in which the college holds the local community and local heritage. 

The college is not prepared to admit itis in breach of the HWC conditions of approval, even though we have a letter from HWC legal department confirming this. 

The college is furthermore not prepared to concede that there are heritage resources which will be negatively impacted by their proposed development and that the approval given by HWC was based on inaccurate and misleading information. It would seem that they simply don’t care.

Bolander is in possession of the letter from HWC confirming the college is obliged to display the approval letter “in a prominent place on the site until the work is completed”.

Leon Booysen, Helderspruit Farm, Somerset West

I would like to contest remarks made by Dr Injety in your recent interview (“Helderberg College responds”, Bolander May 29).

He seems to think that the college has followed all of the required processes related to their development application, but I do not agree.

A pre-submission meeting took place in March 2016 between the college agents and City of Cape Town (CoCT) planning department.

The minutes clearly state “should access servitudes be affected, written consent from the owner must be obtained”.

This was a clear requirement from CoCT that the college must gain my consent to divert my access road.

However, this was not done. A planning application was submitted in November 2016 which proposed to close and divert my access road.

Not only did the college fail to get my consent for this, they didn’t even bother to contact me, so the first I knew about my proposed road closure was when I read the application.

It was not until a year later, in 2017, following letters from my lawyer, that the college agents even met with me. So they most certainly did not comply with the above requirement from CoCT.

As outlined in my previous letter to Bolander, a Mr Du Preez from the college wrote to Environmental Affairs MEC, Anton Bredell, stating that I “provided express instruction that as a registered interested and effected party (I&AP) engagement to the appellant (me) must be channeled by the environmental assessment practitioner through Friends of Helderberg Estate. The latter therefore acted as his agent”.

This is a complete fabrication as I never gave such instruction. Mr Du Preez made this false allegation in an attempt to persuade Mr Bredell to dismiss my appeal.

Fortunately, he was not successful in his attempt since he was unable to provide any proof of my “express instruction”.

He, himself, was in clear breach of the regulations through not copying my legal advisor on this letter, which is a requirement for a responding statement. I have refused to meet with the college or its agents until I have had an apology from Mr Du Preez, which has not been forthcoming.

Maureen Krasser, Somerset West

I read with astonishment the interview with Dr Injety, published in Bolander. I wonder if he has actually read the final decision letter issued by Heritage Western Cape (HWC) on October 26 2016? 

This letter clearly states:

this decision is subject to an appeal period of 14 working days;

the applicant is required to inform any party who has expressed a bona fide interest in any heritage related aspect of this record of decision;

a copy of this letter must be displayed in a prominent place on the site until the work is completed.

I was one of three people who  met with Dr Injety in March 2016 and can categorically state that he promised to keep us informed and involved.

While we were there in our personal capacities – Friends of Helderberg Estate had not yet been formed – we are immediate neighbours and certainly expressed a “bona fide” concern regarding the development and its impact on the locality.

Thus by virtue of this meeting we became interested and affected parties (I&APs) and were entitled to be kept informed of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in accordance with the HWC conditions of approval. 

I live opposite the development site and can confirm that the notice of approval from HWC was not displayed on October 26 2016 and it has still not been displayed, despite the HWC requirement that the letter be displayed “until the work is completed”.

Yet the college states in the environmental Basic Assessment Report “there is no requirement for the notice from HWC to be displayed”.

However, HWC, by way of email from their legal advisor, has confirmed that the letter should have been displayed as required.

As a result of these transgressions, none of the neighbouring residents were given the opportunity to challenge the HIA report.

Thus, the statement by Elden Swart, that “the HIA was advertised in accordance with the specific requirements of HWC and the comments from the public were incorporated into the HIA report and recommendations” is  not true.

The only input was from CoCT Heritage Department and Helderberg Renaissance, none from the local community. 

The college has clearly not complied with the requirements of the HWC letter of approval; these requirements were specifically intended to enable the public to appeal the HWC decision.

Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, Anton Bredell, has been notified of this non-compliance as part of our ongoing appeal against the environmental authorisation.

During the meeting, Dr Injety gave us assurances  as follows:

He said he wanted to work closely with the local community.

He would keep us informed of any progress on the application.

None of these commitments was met.

Philip Maud, Somerset West

I am chairman of Friends of Helderberg Estate (FOHE) committee and I should like to take issue with comments made by Dr Injety in his interview with Bolander.

Dr Injety states: “the allegations of processes being bypassed are not

accurate as Helderberg College of Higher Education has followed all the rules and regulations”. 

This statement by him is not  true.