Concern over traffic volumes

Ann Stirling Roberts,
Somerset West

I am responding to the recently published letter from Craig Donald, regarding construction traffic using Harewood Avenue (“Save Harewood Avenue”, Bolander, April 10).

It seems completely wrong that a heritage resource is being abused in this way. The original avenue of oaks was planted in the 1870s as the driveway to Bakkerskloof Farm.

In fact, none of the roads in Helderberg Estate are suitable for large volumes of construction traffic. Individual buildings and renovations are accommodated through discussion with, and consideration for, neighbours and other road users.

However, the current construction project on Farm 713.1 is on a different scale completely, having already required some 70 concrete trucks (ie 140 journeys) and large earth-moving/rock blasting equipment, with a lot more to come.

All of this traffic is using Harewood Avenue as being the easiest access.

Because the farm is located in Stellenbosch, the City of Cape Town planning department is not willing to address these issues.

Yet it is Somerset West roads which are being damaged, Somerset West residents who are having their safety jeopardised, and a Somerset West heritage resource which is being compromised.

Friends of Helderberg Estate has requested that Gregory Peck, our councillor, liaise with Stellenbosch Planning to find out whether any conditions of access were attached to the planning approval, but we have not had a response from him at the time of writing.

What makes this so concerning is that all of this traffic is for only one (albeit large) residence.

Helderberg College is proposing almost 50 houses with construction access to be taken through Helderberg Estate.

The Traffic Impact Assessment specifically routes the traffic via Harewood Avenue (by way of a new circle where it joins Irene Avenue), and makes no mention of its heritage status.

However, the alternative access routes via Almond or Arlington are highly unsafe due to tight corners and blind bends.

Mr Donald is correct in pointing out that the college has a wide, accessible road running through its grounds up to the development site which, with upgrading of the last few metres, could easily accommodate the construction traffic. This road does not pass near any of the schools.

We have already suffered accidents and damage as a result of heavy vehicles using the roads of Helderberg Estate.

On three recent occasions, lorries have lost control on Companje Road and ended up in the gardens of Little Stream Estate.

Storm drains, kerbs and trees have been damaged.

Videos and photographs have been sent to the authorities, but so far there has been no attempt to address the situation.

On the contrary, CoCT traffic department is “in support” of the college application.

If the college is given approval to use the roads of Helderberg Estate and specifically Harewood Avenue, further accidents and damage would seem inevitable.