End of the line for Currie Road residents in legal wrangle

2017-09-26 17:07


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Durban – Neighbours of the controversial luxury apartment block in Durban’s Currie Road are facing hefty legal bills after they lost what appears to be their last legal option to have the building declared illegal.

The Constitutional Court last week refused leave to appeal against an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal that the building can stay.

The SCA overturned a decision by Durban High Court Judge Esther Steyn, who found that neighbours had not been properly legally notified of the re-zoning of the property.

ALSO READ: Advocates want inquiry into 'illegal, dubious developments' in Durban

This allowed the developers Serengeti Rise Industries to build the "boundary to boundary" multi-storey development which neighbours labelled a "monstrosity" that impeded on their privacy, blocked sunlight and views and impacted on the value of their own properties.

After the eThekwini Municipality conceded in final written submissions that not all neighbours had been notified of the re-zoning in terms of legislation, Steyn ruled that the building should be partially demolished to conform to the site’s original zoning.

The effect of this would most likely have been that the entire building would have to come down, because not only did it affect the height of the building, but also the "footprint" of the development on the site.

'Sad day for rate payers'

Serengeti Rise Industries, who ceased building on the site during the protracted legal battle, then appealed the ruling in the SCA. There, the judges threw out the demolition order and said there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the developers or the city.

The neighbours, including local advocate Tayob Aboobaker, then lodged an appeal against this in the Constitutional Court.

In a to-the-point ruling, eight Constitutional Court judges said the appeal had no prospects of success.

They ordered Aboobaker and the other neighbours to pay Serengeti’s legal costs, but in terms of the "Biowatch" principle – which in certain circumstances absolves public-interest litigants in constitutional matters from picking up the costs even if they lose the case – they do not have to pay the city’s costs.

Neither Aboobaker nor Serengeti Rise responded to requests for comment.

Cheryl Johnston, from community action group Save Our Berea said: "We think it is a sad day for the rate payers of Durban and a disaster for the unfortunate residents who are negatively affected by this building."

Referring to a recent resolution by Advocates for Transformation in KwaZulu-Natal, calling for a commission of inquiry into "illegal buildings", town planning practices and by-law flouting in the city, she said Save Our Berea supported this.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime  |  property

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