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Friday Jul 26, 2013

Durban rejects plans for controversial warehouse

The construction of a massive 'eyesore' warehouse next to the plush Mount Edgecombe golf estate remains on ice after the city refused to approve the plans this week.

The rejection of Moss Ridge Properties' plan to build the 15m-high warehouse became public knowledge only yesterday morning as lawyers for the residents' association were poised to argue before Durban High Court Judge Nompumelelo Radebe for an interdict stopping work until the outcome of the council's decision.

Advocate Paddy Quinlan, for the association, said the refusal letter had been received at 10am yesterday.

That could have been the end of the matter - with the residents chalking up a victory - but Antonie Troskie, the advocate for the company, told the judge that 'many of the issues raised (in the rejection letter) have already been dealt with'.

'We want time to file a further affidavit because the correct situation is not before the court,' he said. The parties then agreed to the matter's being adjourned until next month, with the undertaking to stop building extended until then.

The residents launched their urgent court application about two weeks ago as the steel-framed warehouse rose from the ground, looming over the estate and what they said was the 'signature' 16th hole on the golf course.

After discovering the city had not finally approved the plan they lodged an objection, saying the warehouse did not fit in with the general amenity of the area and would cause property prices on the estate to plummet.

The company countered the court challenge, saying the land was zoned light industrial, the R80 million development complied with the zoning and the company had almost every approval in place.

Undeterred, the association engaged its own town planning expert and property valuer - who expressed opposition to the proposed warehouse - and it seems it was these opinions which influenced the city's rejection of the plans.

In the 'decision notice' on July 23, it said the plan had been refused as 'the proposed warehouse will probably or in fact derogate from the value of the adjoining properties'.

But the notice leaves the door open by asking for a report 'mitigating town planning comments, the valuer's opinion and objections from the objectors'.

The company's attorney, Simon Chetwynd-Palmer, told The Mercury the letter appeared to be 'nonsensical' in the light of discussions which took place before it was written.

'Its author asked for a letter setting out the responses, which we did. We made representations and these were accepted.'
He said both sides would meet next week to try to work out an 'out-of-court solution' to the issue.

The Mercury

    
 

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