New hurdle for maverick developers?

2014-06-03 00:00

ROGUE developers could soon have a tough time in Durban if a new community-based oversight forum is given the go-ahead.

But residents are urged not to expect anything soon as the mechanics of such a structure are still in its early stages.

Being driven by the eThekwini Metro, this new body, which was one of the demands by the non-profit organisation Save Our Berea Campaign (SOB) submitted to the city council in May, would provide yet another layer of checks and balances for new building designs.

KZN Institute of Architects (KZNIA) chairperson Kevin Bingham said the city approached them and has asked for advice and feedback.

“It is still a long way in the making and the proposed body will not prescribe building rules or restrictions but ideally it will give guidance and assist developers in constructing new developments that reflect the neighbourhood. We don’t want everyone to have the same roof for instance. Architects will still be challenged to design places that are new and fresh,” said Bingham.

He said the body could see ward councillors and other professional bodies being present and able to give feedback on new designs.

“Obviously we could not comment on every building plan submission but in areas such as the Berea where there are historical buildings, we would give input,” said Bingham.

Save Our Berea chairperson Cheryl Johnson said they “welcomed” the move.

“We requested the council in May to formulate a building control board to monitor all new developments. In recent years there has been a spate of unsightly buildings erected that clearly do not fit in. Developers cannot simply buy land and use cheap materials and poor design to the detriment of everyone else,” said Johnson, adding the city should be congratulated for taking such a step and listening to the demands of the community.

“We will now be pushing for the introduction of the Urban Improvement Zone in Berea that was so successful in the CBD. We are also gravely concerned about the whoonga issue which is becoming a serious problem,” said Johnson.

City architect Jonathan Edkins said in an e-mail to Save Our Berea that “small interventions … spark renewed civic pride”.

Through the Expanded Public Works Programme and managed by the city, in the last month Berea’s streets have been cleaned and graffiti has been removed.

“Hopefully all residents will also assist where they can, in keeping the spaces outside their properties clean and well maintained,” said Edkins.

Edkins said they are in discussion to introduce a process for “independent, informed and professional architectural review” of proposed building developments which are submitted to the city for approval.


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