Residents against Crawford development

Some residents have objected to a proposed development at the St Francis Childrens Home, which involves the building of 62 flats.

Residents from the greater Athlone area have objected to a proposed building development on the premises of the St Francis Children’s Home, on the corner of Tennant Street, Tanner Avenue, and Thornton Road, in Crawford.

According to the application made to the City of Cape Town, the proposed development makes provision for the building of three or four-storey apartment blocks consisting of 62, two-bedroomed units. The total site area is 4 500 square metres.

The application involves the subdivision of an erven, the consolidation of one portion of the erf, rezoning, and an amendment to allow for 78 parking bays.

Jeff Paulse, speaking on behalf of the residents, said: “Neighbouring residents came to hear about the proposed development via a barely visible notice posted on the front fence of the St Francis Children’s Home. The closing date for objections was Monday August 5.

“A bitter pill to swallow for residents living adjacent to the St Francis Children’s Home, is the fact that they were not consulted or informed of such a massive building development or discussions held, prior to the application to the City of Cape Town for the proposed development. St Francis Children’s Home is 100 years old this year and over many years neighbours and the broader Athlone community have been very supportive and co-operative towards the institution. Hence the reasons for the great shock and disappointment in recent developments.”

A major area of concern for the residents, among others, is the impact on an already heavily congested area, that such a development will have on the traffic in surrounding narrow and congested roads.

“The developers plan to provide only one access gate in Tennant Street directly opposite Willis Street which is a short, narrow road leading to Kromboom Road. By adding extra residents and traffic emanating from the intended construction, a traffic nightmare will follow for residents adjacent to the children’s home. Presently all roads surrounding the home are being used as part of the rat race to get to Kromboom and Jan Smuts roads, especially during peak hours. Ironically, the City of Cape Town constructed speed humps in Tennant Street a few months ago,” Mr Paulse said.

He added that residents were informed by “reliable sources” that for the development to go ahead, one or more of the present dormitories housing the orphaned children, would have to be demolished.

“Have we lost our moral responsibility to cater for orphaned children? Shouldn’t we be extending the capacity of the orphanage children’s home instead of downsizing and replacing it with apartment blocks? We live in a day and age where children are being murdered, maltreated, abused, abandoned and exposed to so many wicked members of society. On far too many occasions the whims and fancies for financial gain by property developers are being considered above the wishes of the community, whose concern is purely humanitarian and not wealth.”

St Francis Children’s Home has also, during this time, undergone a name change. It is now known as Realistic Child and Youth Care Centre.

Esther Lewis, spokesperson for the provincial Department of Social Development, said the department asked Realistic to assist St Francis Home, as there had been some management issues at the children’s home.

“The Department of Social Development asked Realistic to mentor and support the centre, after which they reached an agreement to take over the running of the centre,” she said.

When asked whether it would be appropriate for 62 families to live on the same premises as the home, Ms Lewis said: “The property is made up of several plots. The plot on which the child and youth care centre is situated, is separate to where the development is to take place. Furthermore, all child and youth care centres are located within communities. This fosters community and social integration – including attending local schools, community events, etcetera. “All child and youth care centres have a standard of security they must meet, due to having vulnerable children who reside there.”

The Athlone News sent an email with questions to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, to confirm whether they were still the property owners of the children’s home, and to help shed more light on the proposed development.

At the time of going to print, their office did not respond.

Meanwhile, the Kromboom North Civic Association is hosting a meeting for all residents on Tuesday September 17, at the Alpha Preparatory School, at 24 Tennant Street, Crawford, to discuss the development.

For more information, contact André Oliver on 083 381 5957.