Enforcement needed at Musgrave property

A STORM of protest has blown up over a development at the intersection of John Zikhali and Stephen Dlamini Roads which, according to local councillor Chris Pappas, has seriously contravened the city’s bylaws and been escalated to the Mayor’s office.

Pappas said he had taken up the many contraventions with the city’s Development Planning and Land Use Management (LUM) department. He said the original building on the property had been demolished. “What appears to be a large parking lot or car sales lot has been developed on the property,” he said.

“The plot has been tarred and fenced and an entrance gate on Stephen Dlamini Road has been installed, something which was not approved by the municipality. This land is zoned residential, but clearly this is going to be used for business purposes. One of the consent rules for residential zoning is to include parking, but not on the whole area,” he said.

Pappas said a section of the property had also encroached on municipal land.

“This is a road reserve, there used to be trees and bushes in this section of the property and we had plans to develop a garden here. Other contraventions on this property include relaxation of sides issues and coverage issues. This is a wall to wall development which is not allowed. There is a possibility that it could be turned into a business which it is not zoned for,” he said.

Councillor Chris Pappas shows the space from the palm tree to the fence boundary, which was previously municipal land.

The matter, said Pappas, had been raised with LUM when construction started, but the work on the property had been completed before any feedback was received from the department.

“The process is so slow that this has gone through the Parks Department, LUM and the Mayor’s Office. The Mayor’s office is asking for feedback but officials at LUM haven’t been forthcoming. I have been told it will be investigated, but a month later this is what has happened. I have had no response from the owner,” he said.

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In response to the outcry over this property, a municipal official said he had visited the property and did agree with the encroachment together with other contraventions at the property in question.

“We are processing prosecutions against the owner and have also engaged with sister departments for their interventions in order to achieve compliance,” he said.

Pappas said the issue was that people start businesses in places but think it is the municipality’s responsibility to provide parking.

“This is a huge problem in Stephen Dlamini Road, Brickfield Road and Overport. I have done what I can and now I am waiting on enforcement at this property,” he said.

Reacting to this eyesore, Save Our Berea’s Kevin Dunkley and Cheryl Johnson, said residents had been asking questions about this ‘ugly sea of asphalt’ that had suddenly replaced the former residential home.

A Google Earth image shows the green public space before the owner laid asphalt and erected a fence.

In correspondence with LUM, they also questioned the incorrect use of land and whether rezoning had been advertised, and why the owner had taken over municipal property.

“The City has in recent years pushed through, despite numerous objections, a number of dubious rezonings, supposedly in the interest of densification. Yet, here we have a situation, where when it suits the City and certain favoured developers, one can take a residential property, demolish the usable domestic residence, asphalt it, and this is now deemed acceptable? What has happened to the eThekwini by-law about the use of impervious surfaces? And what about the by-law regarding landscaping? There is nothing green at this site to absorb heat and cool the landscape. The asphalt will simply absorb the sun’s energy during the day and re-release it at night, contributing significantly to the ‘heat-island effect’ that affects cities making them hotter and more uncomfortable to live in. If there’s one thing we don’t need on the Berea, it’s another asphalt space. Neither do we want it plonked opposite a park, on a busy trans-Berea road and in the centre of a charming residential area,” they said.

Berea Mail made numerous attempts to contact the owner for comment, however no response was received at time of going to print.


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