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Catholics take issue with Dennesig housing

Churchgoers are petitioning against the proposed high-density development of flats across the St Nicholas Catholic church in Paul Kruger Street.

Developers in Stellenbosch have set their sights on the Dennesig neighbourhood for an expansion of high-density accommodation to serve the demand for student housing in the town.

Fr Wim Lindeque, parish priest of the Stellenbosch church, was first notified of the developments through a town planner and the historical society, respectively, asking the church to raise any concerns they may have.

According to Lindeque, the developments will clash with the service of the church, which has existed since 1928.

“If there is a block of flats with each student playing loud music you can imagine the noise it will generate, apart from the traffic noise,” he said. “So it will have a dramatic effect on the peace and quiet of this property, of the services that we have here in the church and outside.

“At the moment it’s possible to have a relationship with the students, because the houses are on a smaller scale. If they have a big party they inform us they would like to have a party on such a day and it will take so long and so forth.”

According to a 2014 study on the student body by, among others, Stellenbosch University professor of Urban Geography Ronnie Donaldson, the university had 11 379 registered students by 1990. This number almost trebled to 31 639 students by 2017, according to the SU statistical profile.

Donaldson described the proposed student accommoation in Dennesig as “an absolute tragedy”.

“At face value it looks like an insignificant neighbourhood when you drive through it, but it has an absolutely unique character, particularly of a specific era in the history of the town’s development going back to the 1920s to ’40s, when the neighbourhood was established.”

Instead, Donaldson proposes integration for young working people seeking affordable accommodation.

“What about the thousands of people from Kayamandi, Cloetesville and Ida’s Valley that can pay good rent for affordable accommodation, but can’t find it anywhere because the state and municipality don’t make provision for it?” he asked. “They must integrate this type of accommodation with this high-density student housing.”

Lindeque notes this is not the first high-density development to take place in Dennesig.

“We were asked if we had any objections, maybe a year and a half ago, or a year ago, [for the developments down the road of the church]. At the time we didn’t object to this one because we had no idea that this area [Dennesig] was apparently targeted by the city council for high density developments.”

Stuart Grobbelaar, Communications Manager of the Municipality, said it received applications for developments, which it must still assess before giving comment.

V Any persons wishing to comment on heritage grounds are encouraged to contact the chairperson of the Impact Assessment Committee at Heritage Western Cape, Cindy Postlethwayt, at cindy@cpheritage.co.za

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