Student accommodation precinct: Not in our backyard, say furious residents

Shikar Singh from eThekwini Municipality's Land Use Management Unit addressed residents.

‘NOT in our backyard!’ That was the message that ran loud and clear at a community meeting last week where the proposed student accommodation precinct project earmarked for wards 33 and 101 was debated.

The meeting on Thursday night at St Cyprian’s Hall was heated, with residents expressing their concern about the proposal which entails the establishment of specific student accommodation zones in areas including Manor Gardens, Glenwood and Umbilo.

Residents packed out the hall at St Cyprian’s Church last Thursday night at the community meeting.

Shikar Singh from eThekwini Municipality’s Land Use Management Unit addressed residents, saying that at present there was no specific policy to address student accommodation.

“At the moment, we get a lot of complaints from residents regarding student accommodation. This type of accommodation is presently classified as general residential, so anyone can put in an application for student accommodation. We currently have so many applications that the municipality doesn’t know what to do with them. This study was commissioned in May 2017 to look at issues surrounding student accommodation and how we can delineate areas which can be made into student accommodation zones. These won’t be multi-storey buildings, but are for people who have houses within these zones which they want to convert for this type of accommodation,” he said.

Singh said the study was currently at stage four of six phases which when completed, would be translated to a Land Use Management plan and finalised for Council submission.

Guy Perrins, resident and chair of the Glenwood Community Watch, Mike Kahn from Zimanga Urban and Rural Development Consultants and Councillor Mmabatho Tembe at the meeting.

Mike Kahn, speaking on behalf of Zimanga Urban and Rural Development Consultants, said the University of KwaZulu-Natal had quadrupled in numbers and something needed to be done to address the problem of accommodation.

READ RELATED: City moves to establish student accommodation precinct

“The project looked at areas where there were existing bus routes, shops and other amenities and a detailed analysis of the area helped us to make decisions. Some people around the interface of the zones will be impacted, however there will be detailed hoops applicants would need to jump through to be approved. These include the necessity of an onsite manager, the accommodation must house registered students and there must be management plan,” he said, adding that residents living on the interface of these zones could be given a rates rebate as compensation.

Mike Kahn from Zimanga Urban and Rural Development Consultants shows various zones in the area which had been identified for the student accommodation precinct.

However, angry residents at the meeting objected to the areas which have been identified, such as near Durban Girls’ High School and Penzance Primary School.

Many expressed anger that they were only being consulted at stage four of the study and commented on the fact that while they were overwhelmingly against the project, it appeared by the tone of the speakers that it had already been approved.

They also pointed out with concern that there was no representative from UKZN at the meeting.

Residents who wish to object to the project can lodge their objects with Lungelo Chiliza: [email protected] or Shikar Singh: [email protected]

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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