Court sides with residents

The Western Cape High Court has ruled in favour of the application by the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association (CBCRA) against a development on 5 The Meadway in Camps Bay.

CBCRA and two neighbours launched an application to have building plans approved by the City of Cape Town to be reviewed and set aside, for the developer to be interdicted from any further construction work on the site and illegal building work to be demolished.

The court order prevents the developer from doing any work on the top floor, the roof and deck, and the side balconies.

According to the chairperson of CBCRA, Chris Willemse, this comes after months of frustration in getting the City officials to act against the alleged violations of the relevant building legislation, building work completed without approved plans and suspect planning applications by the developer.

According to Mr Willemse, the original application was for a building of three floors and a wholly underground basement. The building was approved at 7.4m above the current ground level.

“The building, as built thus far with the full collusion of the City, has the basement protruding almost a metre out of the ground and the overall height almost 2m higher than approved.

“On top of this, they have built a lift shaft that increases the height by a further 2m,” he said.

Mr Willemse stated that the building exceeded both the internal and external permissible heights by over a metre and balconies have been built illegally directly onto side boundaries. He said other issues with the development have resulted in a general derogation of the streetscape and a negative impact on the values of neighbouring properties.

The second applicant, Spring Lights 1130CC, stated that the enjoyment of their property rights has been severely impacted from the time that the building and construction work first started on Erf 196.

The trustees for the time being of the Al Khalifa family and the City of Cape Town are the first and second respondents, respectively, in the matter.

In his founding affidavit, Mr Willemse stated that the construction and building work taking place on this property have been an ongoing problem for some time.

He said the complaints from the applicants have been ignored. “In so doing, the second respondent (City) has failed in its duty to protect the legitimate interests of other residents and property owners of the Brighton Township, that applicable law will be enforced, “ he said.

He said they are not certain how many sets of plans in fact exist in respect of this property.

He said it was certainly apparent that at least one set of what are commonly termed “rider plans” – building plans that contain amendments of an original set of approved building plans – were approved by the City.

He said it was still unclear as to how many rider plans were approved, but they were done without any public participation, which was required given that departures were needed.

“In terms of the rules of court, the City will have to make the entire record available to the applicants. We will then have a better idea of how this situation was allowed to develop,” he said.

He said the City’s response on the complaints was to do nothing and allow the developer to work illegally. “It obfuscated every valid request by the CBCRA and neighbours for action for over a year, which eventually led to the CBCRA and neighbours having to take the expensive legal steps to obtain a High Court order for the City to enforce the rule of law, which it clearly doesn’t consider as something necessary. It is a sad conclusion that certain City planning officials appear to have no problem with illegal developments and, in this case, confirmed in writing that inspections and contraventions would only be dealt with once the building was complete,” he said.

The City’s media manager, Luthando Tyhalibongo, said: “The matter is sub judice, therefore, the City cannot provide comment at this stage.”

The full review of the matter has been set down for Wednesday November 6.