Outcry over developments leads to call for more transparency

The development in Bemersyde Road, Berea continues to get higher by the day.

DEVELOPERS who build before plans are passed, ignore by-laws or whose buildings deviate from initial building proposals have caused an uproar among Berea residents who accuse the municipality of being unable to bring errant developers to book and deal with what some have called a Town Planning crisis.

Civic organisation, Save Our Berea has been inundated with desperate pleas from residents affected by the various developments. Commenting on the spate of complaints Kevin Dunkley said the complaints cried out for the need for more transparency by developers as well as the City’s Development Planning, Environment and Management unit.

“It is patently obvious that in many cases the building inspectorate and enforcement are being reactive rather than proactive. Given the level of complaints from residents of this city, the Investigation and Integrity Unit should be more proactive in investigating these departments and their modus operandi. The methods of informing adjoining property owners and the public in general is totally inadequate and outdated and in no way meets the intention of the Constitution to provide the citizens of this country with their constitutional right to such information in order to make an informed decision to protect their rights,” he said.

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For Ugo and Peggy Paladini, residents of Currie Road, building work on a site in Clive Road below their property has progressed rapidly despite no plans having been submitted. Although eThekwini Municipality has been made aware of it and the building inspector has assured residents that a stop-work order to the developer has been issued, work on the site continues unabated.

On Friday last week, Peggy informed Berea Mail that the foundations on the development appeared to be completed.

“They are on a level which is quite high up and nowhere near the level of Clive Road as shown on the original demolition plans. There has been no attempt whatsoever to stop work. If anything, they are speeding things up. I find it unacceptable that you can’t chain up the site or use some other method to stop illegal building. An urgent interdict would certainly stop them. A fine of R1500, which I understand is what the city is imposing, will certainly not,” she said.

Controversy also surrounds a development in Bemersyde Road where neighbours have raised their concerns and one resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said a building was going up in front of her home that will not only block her views, but reduce the value of her property. She said she had approached the developer for feedback on the planned development when the original house was sold in early 2016 and had queried whether the building would block her view. She was advised the plans were to build double storey duplex units what would not extend beyond the original house’s roof.

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“The building is getting considerably higher by the day! The building inspector told me there would now also be a fourth floor and a roof was also still to go up. I was told by the developer that I had no right to my views and that they could build what they liked as the plans had been passed. I went to Town Planning in mid 2016 and asked to see plans, but was told there were no plans to show. It is very distressing,” she said.

Earlier this week, Berea Mail was alerted to work on another development in Currie Road which has residents raising concerns. The project comprises three apartments spanning the length of the stand, a ground floor, first floor and second floor, with a roof still to be incorporated.

“The building virtually fills the complete stand. Surely there is a limit to what you can build on a stand? The building has compromised the value and views of properties located on the south and north side, particularly the front of the building off 12th Avenue,” said a concerned resident.

He said the owner originally showed residents draft plans for three attached duplexes, with a ground floor and first floor, which he said would have been acceptable, however, the inclusion of a second floor was unacceptable.

“At no time were papers posted on the wall of 614 Currie Road, advising what the owners were proposing to build and calling for objections. The building is rising higher and is an eyesore. It is causing discontent among the immediate neighbours,” he said.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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