Developers snub order

2013-12-02 00:00

ILLEGAL building continued at an apartment block development in Currie Road over the weekend in defiance of a municipal order to stop work.

Yesterday The Witness visited the site and observed and photographed work in progress — despite the fact the municipality’s enforcement branch said they would be monitoring the site.

The development at 241 Currie Road on the corner of Currie and St Thomas roads on the Berea is being undertaken by Katherine Reardon Properties for owners A.E. Reardon and Hanifa Magid. Concerns about the building were highlighted at the Save Our Berea campaign meeting last week.

In March residents adjacent to four properties in St Thomas Road learnt that the buildings on these sites were to be demolished to make way for a flat block on land zoned General Residential 1. The buildings were demolished in April.

Residents contacted the municipality in August pointing out that they had not seen any plans for the development nor had consent been sought from the three adjacent apartment blocks — Woodhall, Forest Hill and Observatory Court.

In a letter to Lekha Allopi, senior manager in Land Use Management (LUM), they objected to the development, noting that the proposed high level of the building (thought to be five floors) will block natural sunlight to the lower levels of Woodhall and Forest Hill “resulting in cold dark flats”.

They also questioned the increased traffic flow with an estimated “40 to 60 additional cars trying to get into the garages” accessed from an already busy St Thomas Road.

Marius Taljaard, LUM regional co-ordinator for the North Central area, said that plan had been cleared by LUM “as the zone permits the proposed land use”. He added “all the requirements were met” and that “no public participation, or notification was required” because of the existing zoning.

Taljaard said the developer required approval of the building plan from the Development Applications and Approvals (DAA) department in terms of the National Building Regulations.

Musa Mbhele, the deputy head of development management in the municipality’s development planning and environment management unit, said a building plan application was submitted to LUM for “a pre-scrutiny consideration and this was subsequently submitted to the development applications branch”.

However, despite the plan still awaiting approval, work commenced on the site. Mbhele said a “stop work notice was served on the owner two months ago and there was compliance”.

The owner had been permitted to retain a dangerous embankment, but work then continued with the erection of columns that fell outside the permission granted. Last Friday the matter was handed over to the municipality’s enforcement and prosecution branch. Mbhe­le said they would monitor the site this weekend and if work was continuing they would institute a prosecution.

The Witness visited the site on Saturday and yesterday and found work in progress on both days.

Reardon was out of town yesterday, but contacted the builder,who denied doing building work on Saturday. “He did confirm he had four or five workmen sweeping and cleaning the ramp, which is permitted,” Reardon said in a text message.

The municipality had not responded by the time of going to press.

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