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Monday Nov 12, 2012

Panic after court orders halt to Chatsworth property development

Developers of a multimillion-rand housing project will have to tear down the bulk of their construction work on a development in Chatsworth if they don't get the necessary certification.

Cupido Gardens is a development on Woodhurst Drive with an estimated worth of R100 million and comprises 204 units, all of which are already sold at nearly R500 000 apiece.

The developers were recently ordered by Justice AJ King to stop all construction work on the site after considering a high court application brought by the eThekwini Municipality.

Among those who bought units in the housing complex and who would be affected by the court's ruling is Sushie Reddy, whose husband passed away two years ago. She was eagerly anticipating moving into a unit at Cupido Gardens but she's unsure whether it will ever happen.

"I was promised I could move there in October, then November, now I'm being told some time next year," said Reddy.

"I'm not sure what to believe. I will have to continue living with my children."

Rajen Naidoo, who has paid deposits towards two units, said: "Of the two flats for which I paid deposits [of R5 000 each], one of them is among the 80 that has been approved.

"I was looking forward to having both, but if that doesn't work out, I will ask for a refund of my deposit for the unit that is not approved", said Naidoo.

But the ward councillor for the area Ismail Cassimjee welcomes the High Court Order which prevents further construction at the site.

"The court ruling is welcomed by our community. Even without the additional units being approved and residents taking occupation, this project has already placed a huge strain on traffic flow, the environment and effective service delivery in the area," said Cassimjee.

The municipality said after carrying out feasibility studies on the original plans submitted by the developers, special consent to erect only 80 units was granted to the developers.

Construction companies Menk Civils and Alley Roads entered into a joint venture to build Cupido Gardens.

The city launched an objection when it was brought to their attention that the number of units at Cupido Gardens had been increased to 204.

Everitt Cupido of Menk Civils failed to respond to requests for an interview, while Alley Roads' Ivan Pretorius was not prepared to comment.

The site on which Cupido Gardens is located is zoned institutional and not residential and therefore special consent is required.

Some of the checks done before special consent is granted are: a traffic impact analysis, the strain on existing sewer and storm water systems and parking bay allocation for residents.

A levy of about R18 000 per unit also needs to be paid to complete the granting of special consent.

While the municipality acknowledges that building plans for 204 units were approved, they were startled that no application for special consent could be traced at their offices.

Soobs Moonsammy, head of the municipality's Development, Planning, Environment and Management Unit, was not prepared to comment on the merits of King's ruling.

However, an e-mailed statement issued to the Sunday Tribune by her department read: "This matter is in court and it is council policy not to comment in the media on legal matters. The municipality would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the court case."

King's order directs the developers to issue occupancy certificates to only the owners of the 80 units originally approved by council, but to refrain from doing any work on the balance of 124 units until they obtain the necessary special consent.

Sunday Tribune

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