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Tuesday Nov 22, 2016

Court tells body corporate to approve building plans

A young couple who took on a housing estate's body corporate regarding its rules have emerged victorious in what they termed a David versus Goliath matter.

Greenstone Estate in Edenvale

Sifiso Ntshangase and Vuyile Zikalala, of Greenstone Estate in Edenvale, Ekurhuleni, hauled one of their neighbours, Tanja Edmondson, and the Bushwillow Park Homeowners Association to court in September, accusing them of illegally preventing them from building their house in the estate.

They said Edmondson was objecting to their house plans for no good reason and the association was failing to protect their rights and interests.

They said the association had turned a blind eye to Edmondson's "unreasonable and arbitrary conduct" and that she had applied the estate's rules selectively.

For a year and a half, the three were locked in a legal battle. Yesterday, the court ruled against Edmondson and the association.

The judge ordered the association and Edmondson to approve the couple's plans. The association was also ordered to submit the couple's housing plans to the relevant authority. Edmondson was ordered to pay the costs of the application.

Speaking outside court, Ntshangase said: "This was a David versus Goliath matter and justice has been servedÂ… this is a constitutional democracy and there is rule of law. When people are frustrated by rules, they must have trust in the justice system."

Ntshangase and Zikalala bought a piece of vacant land at the Greenstone Estate last February.

Building plans at the estate are guided by the architectural guidelines. One of the rules states that "no windows or balconies of the house shall overlook the living space of adjacent buildings unless approved by the architectural review committee and all affected neighbours".

The couple gave their plans to Edmondson and another neighbour to approve. The other neighbour didn't have a problem with them, but Edmondson said one of the two balconies would overlook her property.

The couple replaced the balcony with an opaque window so that the person inside the house wouldn't be able to see outside. They kept one of the balconies facing the street. But Edmondson said she didn't want a window of that size overlooking her property. She was also unhappy with the large window in the domestic quarters.

Edmondson said the couple should build a 2m screen to cover the remaining balcony facing the street. Ntshangase and Zikalala refused, and took the matter to court.

Edmondson and estate manager Stuart McKenzie declined to comment.

The Mercury

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