Developers allay fears

JON HOUZET
THE developers of the proposed Anchor Village, a controversial 120-unit complex in a dune forest between Muller Drive and Hards Street, have spoken out to allay the fears of neighbouring residents.
 
The development is being marketed as ideal for investors to rent to Stenden students, and Stenden has embraced the plan to provide “large-scale student accommodation” close to their campus.
 
At a recent spatial development framework (SDF) meeting, residents spoke out against the ad hoc rezoning of single residential homes to become student digs, some housing up to 45 students. They felt Stenden had “planted itself” in Port Alfred without planning for the accommodation needs of its students, and the tranquillity of their quiet neighbourhoods was being disturbed by raucous parties.
 
Fears were also expressed over Anchor Village – that the development would destroy a pristine dune forest, displace wildlife and create drainage problems in heavy rains.
 
The appearance of a zoning certificate dated February 23 made it appear as if rezoning had been done without public participation as the proposal has not been through Ward 10.
 
Last Friday Amanda Broom, the co-owner of Wize Up Deals which is behind the Anchor Village proposal, and Heather Tyson, the principal of Sotheby’s estate agents which is marketing the development, answered their critics and cleared up misconceptions.
 
They pointed out erf 4662 (now renamed erf 7733) was rezoned general residential as far back as 1995. Subsequent proposals to develop the property only dealt with subdivision. Owner Onslow Evans received approval to subdivide the 1,9ha erf into 33 erven, but plans never came to fruition.
 
Broom and her husband Russ have signed an agreement to purchase the property from Evans subject to pre-sale conditions.
 
She said the Wize Up Deals plan would create a far lower development footprint than Evans’ original plan.
“The coverage of each of those (33) erven would have been 50%, plus driveways, plus tarred internal roads, ultimately leading to an 80% coverage and natural foliage decimation. Anchor Village will be less than 25% construction coverage, plus some paved roadways,” said Broom.
 
“It is (our) intention to retain as much of the natural foliage as possible.”
 
When the time came to build, protected white milkwoods would be marked and any trees that had to be cut down would be replaced with two others, she said.
 
As for concerns over wildlife, Tyson pointed out there was an adjoining greenbelt on erf 1863 measuring 2,5ha and a large undeveloped erf 1779 belonging to public works.
 
“The genets and meerkats (neighbour) Chris Day is concerned about can go there,” said Tyson. “The Days built a house on a vacant erf. Were they worried about wildlife there?”
 
Knowing there are concerns over sewerage and stormwater, Broom said they would construct a conservancy tank with a grinding pump and connect to the main waterborne sewerage line on Muller Drive. Stormwater catchment has been planned with a pump for flooding in Hards Street and runoff from the development.
 
The entrance to Anchor Village will be in Muller Drive, with only an emergency exit in Hards Street. This will also be true in the construction phase.
 
Ndlambe Action Group leader Derek Victor, who is also a Hards Street resident, welcomed the news that Hards Street would not serve as the main entrance to the development, but said sewerage and stormwater will remain concerns until he sees adequate infrastructure installed.
 
He also said while the development footprint might be lower, there would be greater numbers of people living on the erf than in 33 homes.
 
Broom said each fully-furnished unit could house four students during the university year, and six holidaymakers over the festive season. That means, once complete, Anchor Village could be occupied by 500 people.
 
Victor also admitted having an “emotional” concern over student behaviour, pointing out he had had problems with a student digs in Prince’s Avenue.
 
Broom said the sectional title development would be managed by a body corporate with a code of conduct in place. It would cover noise abatement, the hanging of laundry, refuse, pets and limiting the number of residents per unit.
 
“It’s an upmarket development. We’ll get the classiest students,” said Tyson.
 
She and Broom also said Anchor Village would assist in diverting issues that have arisen over the rezoning of single residential stands to create student digs, particularly in Grand Street.
 
“It is felt that the prime stands and properties should be left as they are, commanding high value where one can enjoy the privilege of a spectacular view. Anchor Village would help maintain a status quo.”
 
In a letter to Broom, Stenden general manager and academic dean Wouter Hensens commended her for “facilitating our growth”.
 
“I am confident that the accommodation to be provided through your development will be absorbed fully over time by Stenden South Africa students,” Hensens wrote.

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