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Monday Oct 27, 2014

Outrage at 'illegal' building of Sandton school

A top Joburg preschool chain is allegedly building illegally despite the council issuing two stop orders against it.

The Sandton preprimary school building site.

The Smiley Kids pre-primary school in Rivonia is illegally adding another storey to a house that will accommodate about 300 children.

Construction for the school, to be called Sandton Primary School, is being done on 141 Coleraine Drive by the owners of the preschool chain.

Not only has the land on which the school is being built not been rezoned for educational purposes, but property owners and constructors are disregarding a stop order issued against them to halt construction.

Speaking on behalf of residents, Rory Pilman said "no rezoning application has been granted, nor has planning permission (for a primary school) been granted, but the school is now two floors high and, we presume, no inspections have taken place". Residents are also aggrieved by the additional traffic the school would bring, which, they say, the area cannot handle.

"How can we have a primary school in the middle of a residential area where the roads and services can't cope with current usage? These people are allowed to do as they like with no control whatsoever.

"With no building controls/ inspections, what guarantee is there that the building will be safe for the 300 children?" asked Pilman.

A city building inspector for Bryanston had also advised residents that a traffic study hadn't been submitted and that he had issued a stop notice on September 18.

"We told him that this had been ignored and that building was progressing at quite a rate. Builders have been on site daily from sunrise to sunset, even at weekends.

"Signs are up advertising the school and the fact that registration is taking place for 2015. An open day was held and we saw numerous parents signing up. Are these children going to be placed in a school which will have no occupancy certificate?" asked Pilman.

He said the school was being built on top of what was once a single-storey, private house. Also, there was insufficient parking.

"Already there are many days when neighbours cannot get in and out of their properties," he said.

The owner, Delon Katz, however, says he has no knowledge of a stop order, despite The Star having seen a copy of the order.

Katz also told The Star all his permits were in place and sent proof of the submission of rezoning, dated July 29, and an engineer's certificate, dated October 23, the day after The Star asked for comment and a traffic study submitted last week.

But he could not produce any documentation that the city had approved the rezoning.

"What we are doing here is giving back to the community. There is a big shortage of schools in this area – up to 400 children waiting to get in. We are law-abiding and believe this is the right thing for society."

Katz said the R18 million school would boost the value of residents' properties as people liked living close to schools. He was willing to meet residents to discuss their concerns.

  • Stricter by-law enforcement

    The Smiley Kids building issue comes in the wake of the partial collapse of a section of a floor at Alleluia Ministries in Lyndhurst, Joburg.
    The council applied for an urgent interdict in the Gauteng Division of the High Court, sitting in Joburg, which is still pending after the church undertook to cease all activities.

    The city said it had changed its bylaw enforcement control and, starting this month, illegal building and land use would be classified as a criminal offence.

    This means anyone caught building illegally or using property for something it was not zoned for would face criminal charges and/or stiff fines.

    City of Joburg member of the mayoral committee responsible for development planning and urban management Ros Greeff said: "In the past, our hands were tied. We were issuing stop orders, which were being ignored.

    "We would then have to go through a lengthy and costly court case in the high court, which was tying our hands. Now we can go through the magistrate's courts, which will be much easier," she said.

    The Star

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