R74m res­i­den­tial com­plex un­der fire

Ob­jec­tors say over­crowd­ing will af­fect nearby na­ture re­serve

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - NOKUTHULA NTULI

THE fate of a R74 mil­lion sec­tional ti­tle de­vel­op­ment in Yel­low­wood Park is in doubt af­ter res­i­dents and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife called for the re­zon­ing of the ear­marked prop­erty to be re­versed.

Res­i­dents said the lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture would not be able to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment and it would have a ma­jor eco­log­i­cal im­pact on the nearby Ken­neth Stain­bank Na­ture Re­serve.

What was once the sports field of the Im­pact Chris­tian Academy was now the planned site for the new de­vel­op­ment.

The land was re­zoned from ed­u­ca­tional to res­i­den­tial af­ter the prin­ci­pal of the academy, Ger­ald Hol­land, made the ap­pli­ca­tion, which was ap­proved by the ethek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2014.

Hol­land sub­se­quently sold the land to Dur­ban’s Mot­prop De­vel­op­ment Group for R6 mil­lion and it was set to build a three-storey de­vel­op­ment com­pris­ing 136 sec­tional ti­tle units.

More than 170 res­i­dents ob­jected to the re­zon­ing when Hol­land made the ap­pli­ca­tion but they were un­suc­cess­ful.

Res­i­dent Martin Birtwhis­tle said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity op­er­ated as though it did not have a den­si­fi­ca­tion strat­egy be­cause all the ameni­ties in the area were al­ready un­der pres­sure.

“At least 600 more peo­ple would move into the area but that con­cern was ig­nored when it was raised by res­i­dents,” he said.

Birtwhis­tle said lo­cal roads were too nar­row and had no pave­ments, schools were over­crowded and there were enough shop­ping cen­tres.

The pro­posed build­ing site was on land do­nated by Ken­neth Stain­bank to the state in 1970. The na­ture re­serve was named af­ter him. He do­nated the land on con­di­tion it be used only for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses.

Ini­tially, Quail Pri­mary School was on the site but it later closed. The Kwazu­lunatal gov­ern­ment then trans­ferred the land to Hol­land’s Yel­low­wood Chris­tian Fel­low­ship in 1993 for the build­ing of the Im­pact Chris­tian Academy.

“In 1998 Hol­land had the re­stric­tive clause (that the prop­erty be used for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses only) re­moved from the ti­tle deed. The Stain­bank fam­ily did not ob­ject to the move believ­ing Hol­land’s in­ten­tion was to ex­tend the school,” claimed Birtwhis­tle, not who is also the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Stain­bank fam­ily.

Birtwhis­tle, Ezemvelo and the Yel­low­wood Park Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion have since ap­proached the KZN Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Ap­peal Tri­bunal to have the re­zon­ing de­ci­sion set aside

Ezemvelo’s con­cerns are around eco­log­i­cal is­sues as the de­vel­op­ment could cause sig­nif­i­cant pol­lu­tion and degra­da­tion, which could en­dan­ger the eco­log­i­cal in­tegrity and func­tion­ing of the na­ture re­serve.

“Ezemvelo can­not sup­port a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the pro­posed den­sity of de­vel­op­ment di­rectly ad­ja­cent to Ken­neth Stain­bank Na­ture Re­serve due to the highly prob­a­ble neg­a­tive im­pacts that in­clude a loss of good qual­ity wa­ter to the pro­tected area, in­creased vis­ual and light­ing in­tru­sion, and in­creased dis­tur­bances by do­mes­tic an­i­mals, alien plant and an­i­mal in­va­sions, among other im­pacts,” reads Ezemvelo’s sub­mis­sion.

There were also con­cerns that the de­vel­op­ment could in­crease the num­ber of do­mes­tic an­i­mals, es­pe­cially cats, hunt­ing species in the re­serve.

Birtwhis­tle said the size of the prop­erty did not trig­ger an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment (EIA) since it was less than 5ha, but that Ezemvelo’s con­cerns should trig­ger it.

“The coun­cil needs to con­duct a fuller in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this mat­ter and firstly, the pro­posal should trig­ger a com­pul­sory EIA and se­condly an in­spec­tion in loco,” he said.

Chair­man of the ratepay­ers as­so­ci­a­tion Gavin Hegter said some of the res­i­dents were also con­cerned that a sec­tional ti­tle de­vel­op­ment would de­value ex­ist­ing prop­er­ties and they were pre­pared to take the mat­ter to court if re­quired.

“When the mu­nic­i­pal­ity granted the re­zon­ing it said it was due to de­mand for ac­com­mo­da­tion for smaller fam­i­lies in the area and we be­lieve this to be false be­cause Wood­haven (which is ad­ja­cent to Yel­low­wood Park) has plenty of such ac­com­mo­da­tion,” said Hegter.

Hol­land dis­puted the res­i­dents’ claims but said he could not com­ment fur­ther as the mat­ter was un­der review.

Ethek­wini spoke­woman Tozi Mthethwa said ob­jec­tors’ con­cerns were taken se­ri­ously and had been weighed against the ap­pli­ca­tion submitted.

The Mot­prop De­vel­op­ment Group had not com­mented at the time of go­ing to print.

PIC­TURE: BON­GANI MBATHA

Lo­cal res­i­dent Martin Birtwhis­tle and the chair­man of the Yel­low­wood Ratepay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Gavin Hegter at the site ear­marked for a 136-unit sec­tional ti­tle de­vel­op­ment.

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