The densification of Cape Town's Southern Suburbs can have significant benefits for all

The much discussed Cape Town City Council policy of encouraging the densification of certain Cape Peninsula suburbs and residential areas, especially those close to major roads and public transport, should not be seen as retrogressive, insensitive or necessarily harmful to existing residents’ interests, says Paul Henry, Managing Director of Rawson Developers, a firm which has capitalised very successfully on the new trend by building over 500 sectional title apartments in the Rondebosch area.
  
 “Obviously it can initially be upsetting for locals to discover that an area which previously had only single or double story buildings will now be given one or two buildings with five or six stories,” said Henry. “Very often, however, the new building will be surrounded by well laid-out, professionally landscaped gardens and attractive communal facilities and it will offer occupants better protection and more social interaction than they were ever able to achieve in free standing homes with their own gardens. In addition, in almost every case with which we have been associated, the new development adds substantially to the value of all the other homes in the area - and this is a factor which must be appreciated.”
  
 As a result of Rawson Developers’ high profile activities in the Rondebosch area (i.e. at The Rondebosch, River’s Edge and Rondebosch Oaks), they are increasingly approached by home owners wishing to sell their homes, said Henry. Rawson Developers have therefore been able to acquire land for new projects in the Rondebosch/Claremont precinct and at least three new developments will keep the Rawson Construction team active until 2015.
  
 Certain new projects, Henry added, fall within urban conservation zones. In these cases, he said, development is only permitted if Heritage Western Cape give their approval and are allowed to guide and advise the development and if all objections have to be considered and discussed with local residents. These objections add anything from two to four years to the time it takes to launch a project and they inevitably result in the cost of the units being significantly increased. However Rawson Developers, he said, take pride in being flexible and reasonable in these cases.
  
 In many cases, said Henry, the objection will lead to the abandonment or a complete re-design of the scheme - in most cases reducing its size very noticeably.
  
 Where, however, a site has been zoned General Residential 4, the developer has only to comply with the City Council’s zoning rules. These, said Henry, have always been carefully thought out by dedicated professionals at the council and provided there are no departures from the parameters laid down by the City Council, they are obliged to approve any scheme which complies with the rulings. In these cases, said Henry, objections and complaints, although always noted and listened to, are unlikely to have much impact on the outcome or look of the development.
  
 Henry added that if people are worried about forthcoming multi-storey projects in the area they should, before buying, consult the City Council zonings which set out very clearly which areas are earmarked for densification and which will be left in perpetuity.

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