Four-storey block too close for comfort

Blaauwberg Road residents say debris falling from this construction site is causing a mess on their properties
Blaauwberg Road residents say debris falling from this construction site is causing a mess on their properties.

Residents living near a construction site on the corner of Blaauwberg Road and Grey Avenue, Table View, say the block of flats being built there is too close to their homes and they are at risk of being hit by falling debris.

The occupants of three houses on a single neighbouring plot in Blaauwberg Road say the four-storey block is too close their boundary walls and its balconies invade their privacy. Recently a piece of scaffolding from the site fell through the roof one of the homes.

The developers, however, say they are permitted to build up against the boundary walls, according to plans approved by the City of Cape Town.

Patricia Bond, 57, said bulldozers had started demolishing the three houses on the plot next to hers in January last year without consulting her. Construction had paused when lockdown started in March but had started up again four months later and the developer had demolished the boundary wall for her and her neighbour. She had complained to the developers and they had agreed to rebuild her wall in two days but had only done so a month later, leaving it unpainted and unplastered.

“We were without a wall for a month and the property next door was open with no temporary fencing around it,” said Ms Bond.

Her neighbour, Dawn Jorgenson, said she had paid private builders R10 000 to rebuild the wall because her dogs had been confined to a small space in the house.

Ms Jorgensen said her garden had been damaged and four trees had been chopped down and left among the rubble.

Ms Bond’s daughter, Monique Stockigt, who rents the third property on the plot, complained that a balcony from the block had a “good view” of her backyard.

On January 21 this year a scaffolding board crashed through Ms Bond’s roof. Ms Bond said the developers had fixed it but the roof now leaked when it rained.

Ms Bond said she had invited the developers to have a look at the balconies encroaching onto her property and shoddy workmanship but they had turned her request into a joke.

“I called them about the balconies and they said it’s a great way to keep conversation or jump over for a braai.”

Cars and carports were damaged by falling debris and construction vehicles were parked on her property, she said.

“This is my investment. I have worked all my life towards this property and it was damaged in the space of months,” she said, choked with emotion.

Ms Jorgensten wants the developers to refund her R10 000 and check that debris from the construction site doesn’t fall onto her property.

Ms Bond demanded that developers move the black back from her boundary wall, fix her leaking roof and move the balconies to face in another direction.

She accused the developers of not being transparent about their plans or following a public participation process.

“I would not have objected to the development; I would have laid down simple demands, but they have no regard and went along with the building,” she said.

The four-storey block of flats on the 1327m² plot comprises 22 two-bedroom units of 60m² with 12m² balconies. Each unit will have one open parking bay, including six closed garages. The block’s gate faces Grey Avenue. The development is due to be completed by the end of June this year.

According to CIJ Property Developments website, there are only 16 units left, for purchase or to rent.

The developer, Johnny Khella, said the City of Cape Town had approved the building plans on June 1 last year and a demolition permit had been issued.

He denied that the buildings were encroaching onto any neighbouring properties.

“Plans will not be approved unless the bulk and coverage are within the use zone and development rules of the City of Cape Town. By approving the building plans they confirmed that the building being erected does not contravene use zone and development rules,” he said.

In January, a piece of scaffolding crashed through Patricia Bond’s roof.

Mr Khella called the damage to Ms Bond’s roof and “unfortunate incident” and said it had been repaired and waterproofed.

“A barrier has since been erected on the roof to prevent future possible damage and the barrier will be removed once construction is complete.”

A vibracrete boundary wall had been on the development’s property, and, after consultation with the affected neighbours, it had been removed and a new wall built on the boundary, he said.

He had told the neighbours that the plastering and painting of the wall would be attended to during the final phase of the development.

Mr Khella said all efforts were taken to stop debris falling into other properties but “unfortunately will take place from time to time,” because of windy weather conditions.

“Arrangements have been made with neighbours who have been affected by debris, and clean up of the affected areas is being attended to from time to time. As a sign of good faith a neighbour’s car has also been washed,” he said.

Ms Bond wants a neighbouring development moved back from her boundary wall and its balconies to face in another direction.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, confirmed that the City had approved the building plans on June 1 2020 and the City had done its first building inspection on October 23 of that year.

Ms Nieuwoudt said a public participation process had not been needed because the property had a history of General Residential 3 zoning, which allows for the development of flats, just like many other properties on Blaauwberg Road.

“The owner submitted a building plan which was zoning compliant and the property will be developed in accordance with the applicable rules,” she said.

Table View Ratepayers’ Association did not respond by deadline.