In­ter­dict sought to halt Joburg de­vel­op­ment

1 000 units at third-storey level but city is­sued no ap­proval

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

THE City of Joburg is set to clamp down on de­vel­op­ers and builders who build with­out per­mis­sion or ap­proved plans.

In what is to be­lieved to be a se­ri­ous prece­dent, the city is pro­cess­ing a back-dated in­ter­dict against a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment com­pany, Bal­win Prop­er­ties, for the il­le­gal con­struc­tion of some 1 000 units, The Whisken, in Crawthorne.

Bal­win al­legedly started build­ing with­out ap­proval. If the in­ter­dict is suc­cess­ful, and the com­pany con­tin­ues build­ing, the chief ex­ec­u­tive could face ar­rest.

The city or­dered Bal­win to cease con­struc­tion, and al­though the com­pany agreed to it, they con­tin­ued build­ing. In fact, they have ad­ver­tised that the units will be ready for oc­cu­pa­tion by Au­gust, de­spite there be­ing no oc­cu­pa­tion cer­tifi­cates is­sued.

Bal­win has no ap­proval from the city, the reg­is­tered ob­jec­tors have not been given a hear­ing be­fore the tri­bunal and the coun­cil has not given any per­mis­sion.

But the build­ings are al­ready at third-storey level.

Stephen Brookes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bal­win, told The Star the com­pany had had a sec­tion 7(6) ap­proval (cer­tifi­cate) from Joburg’s build­ing con­trol depart­ment. He said Bal­win had stopped con­struc­tion on site and that the fu­ture res­i­dents had not taken oc­cu­pa­tion.

Bal­win claims in pa­pers that The Star has seen, that all the ob­jec­tions have been with­drawn. Var­i­ous res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tions, which have ob­jected, main­tain their ob­jec­tions are still in place.

It ap­pears Bal­win got a sec­tion 7(6) cer­tifi­cate al­low­ing build­ing to com­mence, which a highly-placed source at the city said had been is­sued ir­reg­u­larly.

The source said this was now be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as the cer­tifi­cate should not have been is­sued, be­cause there are no ap­provals in place. The orig­i­nal land ap­pli­ca­tion is still un­der eval­u­a­tion, ren­der­ing con­struc­tion il­le­gal. In any case, the 7 (6) cer­tifi­cate only lasts three months, which has long since ex­pired.

“The prob­lem with the 7 (6) cer­tifi­cate is to do with Na­tional Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions and the Build­ing Stan­dards Act. While this act refers to the ap­pli­ca­ble law, the city has to be sat­is­fied that all plan­ning leg­is­la­tion has been com­plied with be­fore en­ter­tain­ing ap­pli­ca­tions and any above-ground struc­tural work.

The cer­tifi­cate is more than a year old and is no longer valid.

“I want to see ev­i­dence of ac­tion taken to pre­vent fur­ther con­struc­tion, by the lat­est start­ing six months af­ter the date of the is­sue of the cer­tifi­cate.

“Apart from be­ing highly ir­re­spon­si­ble is­su­ing the cer­tifi­cate in the first place, it is pure neg­li­gence do­ing noth­ing about keep­ing a tight rein on the site in the ab­sence of en­sur­ing com­pli­ance,” said An­nette Deppe, the ward coun­cil­lor.

Deppe con­firmed that no­tices had been served and that the city was now ap­ply­ing for a back­dated in­ter­dict to set an ex­am­ple to other de­vel­op­ers, as the courts rarely grant evic­tion or­ders.

The city also wants to ap­ply rep­u­ta­tional pres­sure on the de­vel­oper, a listed com­pany.

Sev­eral res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tions – Carl­swald, Glen Austin and Vorna Val­ley – got to­gether and formed the Midrand Al­liance to stop the build­ing.

Chris Sy­mons of the Carl­swald Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion said they had con­stantly ob­jected to the de­vel­op­ment, but their ob­jec­tions had been dis­re­garded.

“There ap­pears to be cor­rup­tion, be­cause the city has done noth­ing. We have been putting lots of pres­sure on the city, but noth­ing gets done.

“If it is true, as ru­mour has it that the chief ex­ec­u­tive is to be ar­rested, that is in­deed good news,” he said.

Marianne Nel of the Vorna Val­ley Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion said res­i­dents had been fight­ing this de­vel­op­ment for years.

“It is not only Bal­win, but other de­vel­op­ers as well, who build when and where they like be­cause the coun­cil does noth­ing. These de­vel­op­ers walk all over us res­i­dents. We have been fight­ing this for years,” she said.

The City of Joburg con­firmed it had ap­plied for an in­ter­dict.

“The city wants to as­sure res­i­dents that ac­tion gets taken when mat­ters of il­le­gal build­ing are re­ported. In­spec­tors con­duct reg­u­lar in­spec­tions and is­sue no­tices,” said city spokesper­son Nthatisi Modin­goane.

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