Chairman’s review 2017/18 : Stellenbosch Ratepayers Association AGM, Stellenbosch Library, 27/11/18

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, 
Thank you for gracing us with your presence.

Is there anybody present who does not understand Afrikaans? 

I can speak in both languages if necessary. Unfortunately the little Xhosa I knew as a child has been lost through lack of practise.

Normally we invite a speaker to address us, but this has been a tumultuous year resulting in our AGM being later than usual with potential speakers aready engaged.
We were fortunate to obtain this venue and wish to thank the municipality for making it available to us.

One could talk for hours about what has been happening in Stellenbosch this past year that affects ratepayers. But you can relax, I will only highlight major issues and concerns; copies of this report are available on our website, and a few hard copies are available here from our secretary, Rehanne Lambrecht. If we run out of copies, give your email address to Rehanne, he will send a copy to you.

The primary focus of the SRA is good governance as evidenced by the allocation of funds in the municipal budget, and the management and administration of these funds.

The framework we consider appropriate for the management and development of our municipal area is the following:

The Heritage Inventory (Todeschini report)

  • The Environmental Management Framework (EMF)
  • The Spatial Development Framework (SDF)
  • The Integrated Development Framework (IDP)
  • The Integrated Zoning Scheme (IZS)
  • The budget
  • Municipal policies and bylaws.
  • All master and other relevant plans.

Those that were in attendance last year will recall that I spoke of the threats posed by the Red Herring and Trojan Horse strategy of developers, and the Domino Effect. We showed you the threat posed by rampant urbanisation through Google Earth pictures of our environment in 5 year intervals since 2000. Provincial government planning and development documents view Stellenbosch and environs as an area for development and growth – their road infrastructure plans reflect this viewpoint. The fundamental question we face as residents of Stellenbosch is to what extent our municipality will be able to maintain its outonomous status, and executive mayoral authority.

We have seen many examples of the abovementioned strategy in the past year – building plans deliberately misrepresenting owner intention, building done without plans, misleading rezoning applications, historic buildings being demolished and neglected, a gigantic Capitec Head Office building being constructed at the top of the hill in Technopark, defacing the environment, a Mediclinic hospital being built on a site with very limited access, agressive occupation of farm and forestry land around Stellenbosch and unbridled expansion of the university and deliberate neglect of vineyards by farmers or the new owners who purchased arable land for urbanisation.

The University of Stellenbosch acts like the Vatican in Rome, a sovereign state, not subject to municipal plans and regulations. There is a municipal/US forum, but little evidence of any meaninfgul coordination of future plans. According to the COO of the US, Dr Stan du Plessis (with whom the SRA maintains cordial relations) the US contributes R5bn,i.e. 20%, to the Stellenbosch economy, but the question as to what the constituent elements of the remaining R20bn are, remains unanswered.
Permanent Stellenbosch residents will point to the increased pressure on road space, parking and physical infrastructure, while restauranteurs and bars welcome the increased revenue from the now almost 32,000 students. Looking at the apartments replacing houses in Dennesig, which will remain empty for 4-5 months per annum, one has to question whether this development is good for Stellenbosch.

One way to convey the state of Stellenbosch, from an SRA perspective, is to place it in a SWOT framework. I think it will provide a balanced perspective, and provoke debate regarding what is deemed to be its strength, weakness, opportunities and threats.

Strengths

  • A stable town council
  • Experienced, mature community organisations
  • NGOs
  • Beautiful natural environment
  • Cultural, historic character
  • Our wine estates, industry
  • The walkability of historic core
  • Academic community
  • Business community
  • New leadership in town council and administration
  • US innovation
  • Highly qualified and experienced civilian population/community
  • A productive agricultural sector

Weaknesses

  • Limited tranport infrastructure
  • Student accommodation 
  • Public transport and organisation
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Lack of integrated planning and development between US and Municipality
  • Land use management
  • Municipal court resources
  • In-fighting in the town council
  • Lack of recognition of the importance of public participation in local government
  • Weak enforcement of building regulations and bylaws
  • Managerial experience and expertise
  • Lack of holistic vision

Opportunities

  • Innovation centre
  • Holistic planning – communication infrastructure
  • Tourism
  • Integrated Transport plan
  • Van der Stel
  • Safety and Security (PPI), peace officers, central ops-room
  • Community involvement in planning and development 

Threats

  • Student accommodation – blocks of flats
  • Western bypass plans
  • R44 “safety” plans
  • Northern extension in Kayamandi land occupation
  • Jonkershoek squatters
  • Corporate HO developments in Stellenbosch – Capitec and Mediclnic
  • Rezoning or arable farmland for development – urbanisation
  • Brandwacht research farm development
  • Elsenburg and Nietvoorbij development
  • Lack of communication infrastructure policy and bylaw

Let me conclude and open the floor for questions:

We have  all the necessary plans and frameworks for developing a unique, promising place in the country, even the world. We also have the human capital. What we need are the leadership and management skills to orchestrate the wealth of information and guidelines into a holistic, synergetic, dynamic springboard for the future in which all who live here realise their potential and goals. I believe that the role of civil society is central to the above, if local government harnesses community capabilities in its activities and communicates effectively, prospects for the future will be exciting and promising, for all that live here.

Thank you!

André Pelser

Chairman, SRA.

27/11/18

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