VCC in court over hospital

2016-08-16 10:15
The Victoria Country Club Estate's homeowners want a rezoning application halted.

The Victoria Country Club Estate's homeowners want a rezoning application halted. (File)

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A high court judge was expected to make a decision on Tuesday whether to grant an interdict that will temporarily halt a rezoning application by the developers of the proposed Victoria Mother and Child hospital.

The plan is for the hospital, as well as a boutique hotel, to be built on land that forms part of the upmarket residential Victoria Country Club Estate bordering Queen Elizabeth Park and Victoria Country Club golf course.

The Witness reported in March this year that the funding was available for the project and that licences had already been approved for the building of the hospital, described as a joint venture between Pietermaritzburg paediatric specialist Dr Doshan Naidoo, his wife, Dr Raksha Takoordeen and Riel Associates.

Pietermaritzburg Judge Pete Koen on Monday heard an urgent application by the Victoria Country Club Estate Master Homeowners’ Association NPC to stop the developers going ahead with an application to Msunduzi Municipality’s planning tribunal to have the land rezoned to allow for the construction of the hospital and hotel.

Drs Naidoo and Takoordeen are cited as interested parties among the 10 respondents in the application.

Advocate Alistair Dickson SC, for the homeowners’ association, urged the court to grant an interim interdict urgently before the municipal tribunal begins deliberating on the rezoning application.

The aim is to suspend the hearing of the rezoning application pending the finalisation of the high court dispute and arbitration proceedings between the homeowners and Riel Associates.

Ultimately the homeowners’ association is asking the high court to grant a final order declaring the association to be “the authority for the Victoria Country Club Estate” and that it must give consent before an application can be made for rezoning.

Dickson said the conditions set out when the estate was established, make it clear that the use of the land for developments like a hotel and hospital are specifically “prohibited”.

He said the task of the homeowners’ association is to protect the “communal interests” of all owners on the estate and not only to determine issues like architectural aspects.

Chairperson of the association’s board of directors, Pierre de Villiers Berrange, said in court papers the VCCE was planned as an “integration of conservation, recreation, residential and office park facilities” with an emphasis on conservation.

André de Wet SC, for Riel Associates, argued that it was nowhere expressly stated that the consent of the homeowners’ association must be obtained prior to a rezoning application. He said a municipal tribunal is a specialised body that is exclusively empowered to consider zoning applications.

Richard Kelland, CEO of Riel Associates, said in an affidavit that if the “already lengthy” rezoning application is delayed (due to an interim interdict being granted), there is a real risk that investors will withdraw from the project.

“If a court were to find some months down the line that the applicant [the homeowners’ association] does not have the right to veto rezoning applications, the developer would have lost months of an already lengthy rezoning process. Furthermore the real prospect exists that the investors in this development would by then have walked away,” he said.

Kelland said if the rezoning application is allowed to go ahead “given the inevitable opposition” by the homeowners’ association to the process it will not be finalised before at least January 2017.

He added that the homeowners’ association cannot suffer harm if the “administrative” process continues, but said they “may simply be inconvenienced” by having to lodge an objection with the municipal tribunal.

He also said the site (described as village 1) where the hospital and hotel is to be built, is not visible to any residential sites.

He said the land is wedged between the Ezemvelo offices (at QEP), the Victoria golf club and the N3. The hospital facilities would be accessed directly off Peter Brown Drive and the development in reality would not be “in” the estate.

Kelland also said the appearance of the proposed hospital and hotel development would be similar to the sectional title units for which provision is currently made.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court action

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