Preserving of Harewood Avenue again under attack

Marietjie Stegmann, Somerset-West.

This year, it will be 19 years ago, 1988, that Helderberg Estate and Bakkershoogte objected against the development of high density housing on the farm Bakkershoogte or Erf 198.The application was cancelled and up to now we could continue to live in this peaceful and rural area as it was meant by Dr. Anton Rupert in his selling agreement in witch he stated that the erven should be large and that the small woodland area with poplars and pine were never to be removed. Interestingly, it also stated that there are only to live the primary family and their workers on the farm and not more people than that.

What are developed there now is beautiful and we wish the current owner and his family a happy stay on Erf 198!

But the preserving of Harewood Avenue is again under attack! It is going to be the route for the heavy vehicle transport taking building material to the building site at the top end of Waveren Avenue. The trees are already damaged by this type of transport going through Harewood Avenue and breaking branches off our precious trees. And thereafter we will have an increase of traffic going through Harewood. This avenue is the only of its kind left in Somerset- West. In 1988 the National Monuments Council objected to the removing of the trees because it was seen as part of the homestead being the entrance to the farm.

This avenue was planted by the same person that had the trees planted in De Waal Park in Cape town and to whom De Waal drive was named. I refer you to Wikipedia and The Friends of De Waal Park at www.dewaalpark.co.za. He was the owner of the farm Bakkerskloof and his son J.J.H.de Waal was born on this farm.Jan Hendrik Hofmeyer de Waal was named after his uncle Jan Hendrik Hofmeyer of “Die Eerste Taal Beweging”

J.H.H.de Waal was also a pioneer for Afrikaans and was a” Stigterslid van die Afrikaanse Taal Beweging.” See Wikipedia for background history.

The avenue of trees was the entrance to the farm and is therefore considered to have the same historical value as the homestead which is classified as a historical monument.

In a letter to me dated 2.9.1988 reference nr. 17/7/1 the municipality gave me the assurance that they will appoint specialist people to treat the trees and look after the trees to preserve it for the future. But I must regretfully say, that the integrity of the municipality failed and that the spraying was only done for a few years.

I am asking now as then- what is the meaning of National Tree Planting day if we cannot look after the existing trees. That is, just not to have any respect for our efforts of preserving our planet.

The proposed development on the site at the top of Waveren Ave is typical of what is happening throughout South-Africa of the destroying of all the most beautiful areas of natural beauty.

Up to how high is the municipality going to allow the foothills of our mountain to be destroyed with this sort of development? The Helderberg is the resident’s of Somerset-west’s beacon. It is the whole of the Helderberg Basin’s identity. I would think that it would be considered as “our sacred mountain”and at all costs kept clean of this sort of development and other that might spoil the foothills of our mountain!!

I make the strongest objection against this development as this is going against all the intentions of Dr. Anton Rupert at the time to keep this a rural area. And the reason’s why the house owners bought into this area and certainly the beautifull avenue of oak trees.

I want to dare the municipality to take up on their promise of looking after the oak trees of Harewood Avenue for the future generations.

On a personal note – we as a family lives on our ancestors farmland! My husband’s names are Pieter de Waal and my daughter Elizabeth Petronella. D.C. de Waal’s father was Pieter de waal of the farm Langverwacht at Kuilsriver. Elizabeth was his sister. Thus, this area and Harewood Avenue in particular, has great sentimental and historical value for the family.