Buying into a sense of community
Freespirited Noordhoek residents can be remarkably tolerant creatures. Anna-marie Smith explains
THE residents of Noordhoek are generally considered to have high tolerance levels. Some are of the opinion this is because the almost 4,000-strong local community truly appreciates its privileged lifestyle. They are known as an eccentric society of bohemian mink and manure who have become accustomed to sharing, alongside one another.
The overall tolerance levels of residents, who live in spectacular surroundings adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, are tested in more ways than one — as is the case now, when all and sundry are trekking over Chapmans Peak in preparation for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.
Their strong support of local community events is most visible at open air markets and fairs, as well as restaurants and pubs, where noise often escalates to levels that may be deemed unfit by a handful of residents, as well as local watchdogs. However, the majority of residents questioned about the impact of noise in their valley say it would be preferable to adhere to the prescribed public usage rules, as opposed to the stoppage of such pleasurable entertainment on home ground.
What constitutes noise varies from community to community, says Cape Town city councillor Lungiswa James, mayoral committee member: health.
“The day of the week, cut-off time as well as the nature, footprint and profile of the event would affect what would be considered acceptable. Generally the city is guided by the results of the written comments it receives during the public participation process that the event organiser is required to embark on before any application for a noise exemption would be considered.”
James says to make it possible to host outdoor events, the noise control regulations allow for the issue of a noise exemption, so that the limitations on noise levels are temporarily lifted. Thus, during this permitted period, noise levels are not normally measured.
Entertainment opportunities in the Noordhoek valley are limited to a handful of upmarket venues, mostly comprising hotels, eateries and retail outlets in countrified settings, where commercial property and mixed-use zonings apply. In addition to tourism are seasonal outdoor markets, fairs and events where family entertainment is provided with live music, food and crafts, where permission is granted for entertainment at specific times.
In cases where changes of land usage require re-zoning applications, the local resident associations play a vital role in the fair pursuit of matters, for the protection of property owners and a pristine environment. Overseeing planning and zoning matters is the Noordhoek Conservancy, under the auspices of the provincial government and the Noordhoek Environmental Action Group.
A good example is the positive turn of events that followed at the Red Herring restaurant and bar, after residents experienced high noise levels resulting from “happy hours” that increasingly attracted an undesirable crowd. Resolve was reached by a change of owners, who appreciated the rights of residents to object.
Chapmans Peak Properties principal agent, Jenny Scagell, says it imperative that property buyers intending to invest in such a sought-after country lifestyle consult the local zoning schemes of residential nodes. She says in the case of purchases where existing commercial zonings are public knowledge, property owners have the right to object should noise levels exceed legal limits, as was the case at the Red Herring. Residents now enjoy tolerable noise levels and new dynamics at this venue, through the introduction of live music until 8.30pm.
Another example where locals would prefer to tolerate reason- able noise levels was seen recently when a petition was signed by 600 customers to prevent the closure of the Thursday night market at Cape Point Vineyards, which is zoned as a rural property. Residents say this event serves a community enriching, job creating purpose. Traffic along the estate’s private driveway with ample parking eliminates congestion.
The Noordhoek Conservancy’s Bridget O’Donoghue says some of the surrounding landowners regard the rural zoning as inappropriate for such events. However, Sybrand van der Spuy, owner of Cape Point Vineyards, currently awaiting the city’s approval for appropriate event licencing, says: “This market has received overwhelming community support as it creates employment opportunities and a sense of community.”
The Cape’s scenic Noordhoek area looks after its rural atmosphere and environment.