Building on boundary makes blood boil

Hildagard Murray who lives in a Pinelands retirement village but owns a house in Hockey Close was flabbergasted when the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) put up a building right up against the boundary wall of her property.

Neither she nor her tenants or the neighbour were notified about the building or that it would be right up against the boundary wall, which is two metres high.

The new structure is two metres taller and runs along the boundary wall for about four metres.

“The builders have left a mess in my property, damaged the plants and there is a metal strip running along the entire length of the Vibracrete wall, which means that any excess rainfall will come flooding into the garden where there is insufficient drainage.

“It will certainly cause long-term water damage to my house and property: damp, mould and who knows what else. The other major concern I have is from a fire and safety perspective, this surely cannot be according to government regulations,” Ms Murray said.

“Apparently these plans were approved by the City of Cape Town in January, however, building only commenced a few weeks ago. Surely there has to be some type of restriction governing the construction of buildings so close to a residential property and the fact that it is now going to affect the amount of light which my property used to receive and is a major eye-sore. I have also submitted an official complaint to the City of Cape Town,” said Ms Murray, who told me she has had no formal communication about the building from the SANBS; how much higher it’s going to be; about the unsightly wall or about the mess the builders made.

“When I bought the house a few years ago, we were told in no uncertain terms by the ‘Pinelands municipality – Garden Cities’ that there were definite rules and regulations we had to adhere to – this does not seem to apply to SANBS.”

Ms Murray did get a bit of the end of a wrong stick.

It’s not SANBS who is putting up the building but the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS).

SANBS operates in all the provinces except the Western Cape where the WPBTS is responsible for blood products. It was also not necessary to get permission from Ms Murray, her tenants or the neighbours. However, in my opinion, a courtesy call or a note in the post boxes could have saved some aggravation.

Irene van Schalkwyk, spokesperson for the NGO, said the WPBTS is building a garage-storeroom on the service’s property.

“The City of Cape Town did not require us to obtain any permission or consent from Ms Murray and any other neighbour. The plans were approved on January 31 2018.

“The metal strip was placed to prevent any mess or damage to Mr Murray’s property and garden. Currently it is running along the side of the wall and it is a temporary structure. It will be removed once all building work has been completed. WPBTS plans to clear up any remaining debris resulting from the building after the work has been completed. In addition, WPBTS will brace the existing foliage against the wall, and with the help of a landscaper, plant a creeper to ‘soften’ the new wall. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during construction,” said Ms Van Schalkwyk.

Ms Murray said the CFO, Nicky du Toit, contacted her for the first time about the wall and she went to “see the wall from my house”.

According to Ms Murray the tenants told her that Ms Du Toit was shocked at what she saw.

“Ms Du Toit phoned me and said they would be having a meeting and would contact me. She called me again and after seeing what it was like from my house and next door they are now going to break down the wall and rebuild it two metres from our back walls.

“Thanks to you for all your help and to Nicky for sorting this big problem out for me,” said Ms Murray, who confirmed that the builders have started to take the wall down.

“I am grateful for all your help. I am sure it would not have happened without it.”

Suzette Little, the City of Cape Town’s former mayoral committee member for area north, said the NGO has permission to build four garages.

“No permission from neighbours was required because the building plan was cleared by the City’s Land Use Management Section as it complies with land use regulations. According to the Municipal Planning By-law 2015, neighbours are only required to comment if a land use management application is required, or if a departure from the existing rights or a rezoning is required,” Ms Little said, who confirmed that the building is right up against the boundary wall.

“All applications are assessed on their own merits and it is possible under certain circumstances to build up to a boundary. In this specific case, it was allowed because there are no openings, such as a door or window, in the wall on the boundary and it also complies with the parameters outlined in the Municipal Planning By-law, 2015 and all work on site corresponds with the approved building plan,” said Ms Little, who added that they have no record of Ms Murray’s complaint.