Illegal creche wants to expand its business

Little Stars Blouberg Educare in Blouberg Rise was found to be operating illegally in 2018 and was later fined R4 000.

A Table View crèche, which a court fined R4 000 last year for operating illegally, now wants double the number of pupils the City says it’s built for. 

Nearby residents are unhappy with the creche’s latest move and say the penalty for operating illegally was too lenient. 

 In 2018, the City issued a contravention notice to the Little Stars Blouberg Educare for not submitting a land-use application.

At the time, former mayoral committee member for area north, Grant Twigg, now mayoral committee member for urban management, told Tabletalk the crèche should not run until it had City permission.

The matter went to the court (“Irate over illegal creche,” Tabletalk, December 19, 2018) where the crèche was fined R4 000 in March last year. Just one month earlier, the crèche had officially applied to the City to operate with 78 children. But the City said the crèche was only big enough for 34.

According to email correspondence seen by Tabletalk, crèche owner Dario Florentino then proposed reducing the number of children to 70. The City rejected this, but the crèche has appealed that decision.

A neighbour, Heike Lubbe, said she and a few other neighbours would be objecting to that appeal.

“Having around 70 children in that crèche will just be chaos. Most of the neighbours have been living in this residential area for up to 25 years and currently, we have great concerns regarding the traffic congestion in Curlewis Road ,especially early mornings.”

Ms Lubbe said that many times she had had near accidents while trying to reverse out of her driveway with either parked cars or those who were trying to weave between the cars.

Many now used Curlewis as a short-cut to get to Blaauwberg Road, she said.

Diane Bobrow, of Table View, said there was already a handful of schools in that one road, and she accused the crèche of “sheer greed”.

“I also find it a problem that applications like this get approved often, and usually it’s people who don’t live in the area that make decisions about what happens to our neighbourhood.”

Alicia Visagie, of the City’s development management department, said that, apart from the disagreement about the numbers, the crèche’s new application had been unanimously approved by the Municipal Planning Tribunal in November 2019.

The applicant had paid a fine for the illegal land use.

“In terms of Section 99 (2) of the Municipal Planning By-Law, the proposal is considered desirable insofar as the amended scale of the proposal is considered contextually appropriate,” she said.

Ms Visagie said the crèche would not adversely affect neighbours’ properties. Provision was also made for on-site parking bays, she said.

In a document sent to the City dated November 28 2019, Mr Florentino, comparing his facility to a slightly smaller crèche for 80 children in Briza Road, said he found it “incomprehensible” that his application with fewer children could be refused, but a similar application with more children was considered desirable and approved.

“In other words, an ECD with 80 children (with no additions to the existing structures) in a single residential neighbourhood is not deemed out of scale. But an ECD with 70 children (with no additions to the existing structures) in a similar single residential neighbourhood is deemed to be out of scale,” said Mr Florentino.

He said complying with the City’s policies did not guarantee successful feedback from the City but rather feedback based on the opinions of City officials.

In an email from the owners of the creche, Dario and Soledad Florentino, they said that they were busy finalising matters with the Council and would gladly tell their side of the story once that is in order.