‘Hands off our play­lots’

Phoenix res­i­dents halt hous­ing de­vel­op­ment

Daily News - - NEWS - ZAINUL DA­WOOD

CON­STRUC­TION work on a hous­ing com­plex on a for­mer play­ground has been tem­po­rar­ily halted af­ter a week-long protest by Stone­bridge, Phoenix, res­i­dents.

They were on site re­cently to check that work did not re­sume while they waited for an­swers from the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity on the “the sud­den de­vel­op­ment with­out com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion”.

Res­i­dents cre­ated a page on Face­book called Friends of Car­di­nal Road Play­ground, for their “hand­soff-our-play­ground” cam­paign.

The foun­da­tion and walls of the hous­ing unit had gone up be­fore the protests in­ten­si­fied.

The res­i­dents al­leged the park equip­ment was sold to a scrap­yard for R300, and a dozen or more trees were chopped down.

Res­i­dent Thaven Naidoo ques­tioned how they could ac­cept that an an­swer to the hous­ing cri­sis was to de­stroy parks and play­grounds.

“We are dis­ap­pointed with pre­vi­ous coun­cil­lors, our cur­rent ward 48 coun­cil­lor and the as­so­ci­a­tions that were sup­pos­edly cre­ated to rep­re­sent the Stone­bridge com­mun- ity. We want our play­ground back. Even the mon­keys and birds lost their homes,” he said.

eThek­wini ward coun­cil­lor Bradley Singh said the site was zoned as spe­cial res­i­den­tial when Phoenix was de­vel­oped. In 2013, Singh said, a de­vel­oper had bought the piece of land and had plans passed for a hous­ing unit to be built.

“I have ad­dressed the res­i­dents. They are di­vided on the is­sue. Some say the park was used for drug deal­ing and it is the ped­lars that are ral­ly­ing up com­mu­nity sup­port to ben­e­fit their own agenda. A few politi­cians have jumped on the band­wagon to desta­bilise the area. The city should have re­alised they had a park on the prop­erty and should have zoned it ac­cord­ingly.

“I am to­tally against what they did on the prop­erty, but we can­not take this mat­ter to court be­cause we don’t have a le­gal ar­gu­ment,” Singh said.

The com­mu­nity, how­ever, are re­main­ing hope­ful that a let­ter with their pleas, which was handed over to the city man­age­ment, would be given pri­or­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to Tozi Mthethwa, mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way by the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the out­come would de­ter­mine what ac­tion the city would take.

PIC­TURE: FACE­BOOK

Phoenix res­i­dents protest on a plot of land ear­marked for hous­ing. The land was a chil­dren’s play­ground.

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