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Thursday Mar 06, 2014

Pretoria landmark apartments demolition halted

Tshwane has done an about-turn on Schubart Park flats. After insisting the four-block eye-sore will be demolished, the city will now refurbish the troubled high-density blocks of flats.

Schubart Park flats which were going to be demolished are now going to be refurbished.

The refurbishment will entail conversion of buildings on the western side of the CBD to meet the higher standards for energy-efficient buildings.

It is however not clear what will happen to Block D which was condemned

The city has since entered into an agreement with Tsoseletso Consortium for the refurbishment of the buildings.

In its report which has been approved by council, city planning and development department recommends that the architecture and site development be harmonised to fit in with the broader West Capital Precinct, an ambitious development which will link the inner city with Marabastad.

It is not clear yet when the work will begin.

The proposal indicates that the building was sound and did not require demolition as previously thought, but refurbishment, which would be a cheaper and time-efficient option.

'The previous council decision to demolish the Schubart Park buildings must be revoked or rescinded,' the department recommended.

The report stated that affected residents would be informed of the refurbishments through an appointed convener.

In addition, it provides for the establishment of a commission to facilitate communication between the council and the flat residents.

The refurbished Schubart Park is expected to meet the need for social housing in the 'gap market'- people between RDP houses and housing subsidy.

Schubart Park was developed in response to the city's challenge in social housing, or high density rental housing y for people who earn between R2 500 and R7 500 a month.

When the complex was given to the City of Tshwane it was handed over to City Properties to manage but the management was handed back to the city.

Over the years, some residents stopped paying; there were regular rent boycotts and the flats became dilapidated.

People moved in without authority, conditions deteriorated even further and the flats were eventually considered unfit for human habitation. Infrastructure such as water supply, drainage system, storm water drainage and fire protection were in poor condition.

Its electrical and electronic infrastructure was also deemed to be unacceptable in terms of electrical reticulation, electronic access and security services.

Most of the mechanical services including lifts, hot water systems and fire detection systems had been removed.

Schubart Park tenants were evacuated by the municipality after a court order issued by Pretoria High Court Judge Bill Prinsloo in October 2011.

A month earlier, residents had been involved in a violent stand-off with the police while protesting against water and electricity cutoffs.

That was followed by an application lodged on behalf of the residents by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) who wanted them to be provided with alternate accommodation until the building was refurbished.

The buildings were declared unfit for habitation after it was found that their structural integrity could not be guaranteed, and their design was unsuitable in terms of safety, people accommodation and energy requirements.

Qualifying occupants were accommodated in various places identified by the Tshwane Metro across the city.

At the time, it was found that there was no real economic benefit for the council should the buildings be refurbished.

Several court applications followed with LHR taking on the municipality, with the city insisting the buildings were not compliant with legislation and it was not practical to make them so.

The city was forced to put up security fencing and provide extra security after residents left as looters moved in, removing everything from doors, frames, and geysers to window frames and railings.

Pretoria News


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