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Monday Sep 23, 2013

Bluff property owner ignores stop work order on 'illegal' building

Residents of the Bluff are irate about an alleged illegal building on a property that extends between Doble and Wellfreer roads, claiming it will devalue their properties.

The construction in 24 Doble Road that residents claim is illegal, as plans have not been approved by the city. The existing house on the property can be seen in the background.

They allege that six extra units are being built on the property, despite the property being zoned special residential 900 with only a house, auxiliary unit (granny flat) and servant quarters permitted.

There is already an occupied house and granny cottage on the property.

According to the city's 2008 evaluation roll, the property is owned by M&S Trust Trustees and valued at R1.25 million. It is listed as single residential (15).

Residents are further incensed that after a stop work order was issued last Friday, work continued on the property at an accelerated rate over the weekend.

Resident David Box said he was doing everything in his power to halt construction.

'I checked with the town planning department and they confirmed that the property is zoned special residential 900, allowing for a main house, auxiliary unit (granny flat) and servant quarters.

'From the buildings erected, it is clear they are going to turn them into smaller rooms to rent out to who knows how many people.

'And even after a stop work order was issued on Friday last week, builders continued working furiously over the weekend. It is almost as if they are in a rush to complete the building.

'It is not really a case of whether neighbours object or not, what is being done is illegal.'

He was adamant that the building plans had not been approved by the city.

'I'll do everything in my power to stop this because it is going to devalue all our properties.'

Another resident, Grant Cromie, who lives directly next door to the property, said he engaged with the owner when he started construction a few months ago.

'My biggest complaint is that he hasn't submitted plans. While we initially signed in support of the building when he said it was approved, we learned only later on that it wasn't approved.

'And now he is building so close to our boundary wall. There is this large structure looming over my house.'

Cromie said they were concerned about the 'riff-raff' that would move into the tiny units.

Meanwhile, resident Zoe Cronje said she was concerned that there was no visible sewerage and lack of parking.

'I would like those buildings demolished. One granny flat would be acceptable, but so many units? I have lived in my home for more than 30 years and it is the first time I am seeing something like this. You ask yourself, can our dated sewerage system in the neighbourhood really handle an additional six units from one property?'

Irate residents contacted ward councillor Duncan du Bois, who intervened.

He assisted in getting a stop work order issued and said he spoke directly to the site foreman, who personally told him work would stop.

'People are building illegally because of the delay in town planning to get plans approved. As a councillor I have done what I can. We can only recommend what needs to be done. We cannot instruct anyone,' he said.

In e-mail correspondence seen by the Sunday Tribune from early September, between Du Bois and Mogie Naicker of the city's town planning department for ward 66, Naicker assigned people to investigate the matter.

A stop work order was issued, which the foreman confirmed he would heed.

eThekwini Municipality spokeswoman Sohana Singh said they were investigating whether the construction was legal.

'Issues like this take a lot of time, as different units are involved. It will require us going out to the site and investigating.'

The contractor on site, who would only give his first name, Alpha, refused to answer why construction on the property continued even though a stop work order was issued.

He said he would get the owner to communicate directly with the Sunday Tribune but after two phone calls and two SMSes, he said he passed on the message and it was up to the owner to make contact if he wanted to comment, and asked not to be contacted again.

Sunday Tribune


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