Residents raise concerns over Sunningdale centre construction

PLANS for the R115-million makeover for the Sunningdale Shopping Centre have been met with anger and frustration from some residents, who feel the project has been shrouded in secrecy. The new 5 500m² shopping centre will be anchored by either Woolworths or SPAR, as well as with significantly improved parking provision, said developers last week. The entire centre will also be raised one level above its current trading level to provide the restaurants with sea views.

Northglen News recently spoke to two residents who raised concerns over the new construction. Deborah Bell, a pastor of a local church in the area, said there hasn’t been enough communication and requests for meetings have gone unanswered.

Bell said there was never a proper forum given to any residents to discuss the project or the magnitude of it.

Construction of the new Sunningdale Shopping Centre will begin at the end of January. PHOTO: FWJK Architecture

Construction of the new Sunningdale Shopping Centre will begin at the end of January. PHOTO: FWJK Architecture

“We realise there will always be people that are ‘anti’ things, but this is not the case here. Most people I’ve talked with want an upgrade or new centre, but this is not that. It’s a three-storey, 200 parking bay building. There should have been consultation with residents. Many factors like traffic, privacy, property values, noise pollution and rats (which already pose a huge problem with the small centre), have not been carefully put in place, especially considering the magnitude of the new proposed centre and the very small side roads being proposed for exits. We’ve yet to see the outcome of these areas as this centre has over 200 parking bays.

“This is clearly not a ‘village centre’. Most of us are all for a new centre – the village needs an upgrade. That is very different from what we are seeing here in this plan with triple-storey buildings, it is a monstrosity. We feel all the residents were not clearly advised at the inception, nor was a proper meeting (consultation) had with residents to raise all these very real concerns,” said Bell.

‘We’ve been kept in the dark’

Another resident, who did not want to be named, echoed Bell’s comments. “We’ve been kept in the dark, surely as residents who are affected we have an outlet to voice our frustrations. There’s no concrete plans as to how the construction will play out and all we’ve seen are artist’s impressions. I’m also concerned about the noise and dust pollution caused by the demolition process. There are just too many questions being left unanswered,” the concerned resident said.

Concerns have been addressed says developer

According to Jeremy Jiran, developer of the new Sunningdale Shopping Centre, his architect was requested to participate in a public information meeting called by the Sunningdale Home Owners Association which was held on 24 June last year, where all of the plans for the proposed project were presented to those present.

“After which comments from the floor were responded to by Nicole Richards of FWJK Architecture. Significant comment related to the undesirability of the SPAR loading access off Youngberry Crescent and these concerns have been addressed by the project traffic engineers through the provision of loading access for the anchor tenant off Village Way, which proposals are now under consideration by eThekwini Transport Authority,” he said.

Jiran added that the existing centre was flawed due to its extremely limited parking provision and was now outdated in terms of modern shopping centre design and believed that the Sunningdale Community would celebrate his foresight when the new shopping centre opens for trading at Easter 2017.

Shiraz Habbib

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