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Wednesday Jun 15, 2016

Joburg property owners object to council moves

We will not tolerate the illegal conduct of the City of Joburg. This is the message from residents in the northern suburbs who have threatened legal action to stop the city from relocating the Pikitup, City Parks and Joburg Roads Agency depots, which are currently in Norwood and Melrose, to the Cydna Park site which borders Oaklands and Houghton.

The Upper and Lower Houghton, Abbotsford, Oaklands and Waverley residents' associations are furious and claim that this was pushed through council in March with no proper consultation of residents.

Hugh Eiser, an attorney, and chairman of the Oaklands association, has lodged the appeal to the city in terms of the Municipal Systems Act.

He said in the appeal papers that residents' rights had been gravely affected.

"The intrusion is, in essence, a commercial development in an upmarket residential area. The creation of a commercial node will lead to this being the precursor and catalyst for further application for business rights in these areas. The introduction of an industrial use, namely Pikitup, into an upmarket residential area will reduce property prices. It will create a gross disturbance of the residential ambience with the large number of industrial vehicles, and normal traffic, which will daily be on suburban roads," he said.

It would also lead to the degradation of surrounding, upmarket residential areas, he said.

Eiser said there had been a lack of engagement by the city with residents. A council official, he said, had blatantly informed residents there would be no public participation, no consultation and no opportunity for objection as the decision had been taken and was final. The council was also frustrating residents' attempts to get information.

Eiser said the Cydna site was part of a park and was public open space which did not permit the planned redevelopment.

The council, he said, was only now applying for approval and rezoning, well after the decision for the relocation was taken.

Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) chief executive Helen Botes said land currently occupied by municipal entities in the Paterson Park precinct would be freed in support of the Louis Botha Avenue corridor of freedom programme.

She confirmed the depots would be relocated to Cydna, which was within 3km of the existing facility, and would form part of an integrated services facility. "The current land use is being investigated by a professional team who will advise on the viability and will ensure that all the required approvals are obtained prior to implementation of the project," she said.

This includes traffic impact and environmental assessments and other related assessments.

The James and Ethel Grey Park will not be affected by the relocation of the depots and there will be "harmonious integration with the existing park and existing neighbouring development and land uses".

The council had approved the Paterson Park urban design framework which recommended the relocation, said Botes. She said consultations were held with elected community representatives, including councillors Jack Cooper and Mia Snyman in November, January and March, when the JPC advised them of the need for the relocation.

"Furthermore, the JPC has on numerous occasions advised the ward councillors to notify the community that there will be more engagements with them," she said.

She said that in May, the draft design for the proposed development was presented to the community for comments and input.

"The community expressed their concerns and comments, which were noted by JPC. The professional team is currently reworking the designs to address the issues raised by the community, and once that is finalised by the end of July, JPC will call another public meeting," she said.

Anna Cox

The Star


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