Enough is enough

Friends of Helderberg Estate

It has come to our attention that an application has been submitted to Somerset West municipality to change the urban edge, and permit development on land belonging to Helderberg College, which is currently outside the permitted development area. This land extends from the top of Helderspruit Road up the mountain.

At the same time plans have been submitted on behalf of Helderberg College to rezone the land to residential and for the building of a large housing estate. It seems that the application is being fast-tracked through the planning process, in that change of urban edge, re-zoning and residential planning permission, are all being considered simultaneously. This means there will only be one chance for the public to oppose the project. We have already had sight of the detailed plans at the municipality, although these are not yet in the public domain.

How can this possibly be justified at a time when large tracts of land in the Helderberg have already been earmarked for development – out towards Sir Lowry’s, the Paardevlei area, along the Kuils Rivier road and along the N2. Somerset West is already a building site and the pressure on infrastructure including roads, water, and other services, will be immense.

The access to this development will be through Helderberg Estate, via a small number of narrow roads all of which incorporate blind bends and which are regularly used by dog walkers, runners, cyclists and children for recreation. These roads are totally unsuited to high volumes of construction and commuter traffic.

In addition, in order to facilitate movement of traffic to and from the development, a new circle is planned on Irene Avenue, where it joins Harewood Avenue. This raises other major issues – another potential traffic jam on Irene which already sees serious levels of traffic at peak times, and potential desecration of the beautiful oaks which line Harewood Avenue as construction traffic is directed that way.

Surely it is time for residents of Somerset West to decide enough is enough, and resist further encroachment on our beautiful mountain? The land in question houses a great deal of wildlife including eagle owls and many other bird species, caracal, honey bees and a family of porcupines.

If you would like to help prevent this development and preserve the beautiful character of Somerset West, email: friendsofhelderbergestate@gmail.com with your name and address.