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'Eyesore' to be bulldozed

30 June 2015 - 02:02 By Nathi Olifant

The "monstrosity" that is the controversial nine-storey block of flats on Durban's Berea should be demolished, the Durban High Court ruled yesterday. The ruling is a victory for Berea residents who have fought a four-year battle with the developer, Serengeti Rise Industries.Cheryl Johnson, of Save Our Berea, said: "The residents are very pleased, very happy with this decision. It's been going on for some time."Serengeti could not be reached yesterday but the company is expected to appeal the court's decision.Ward 31 councillor Jethro Lefevre said he was pleased with the court's decision."It's a coup for the residents. This building was built illegally. I think the developers will also take note that, if they do not follow the rules, they will be taken to task."From the inception of the fight in 2011 the neighbourhood residents wanted the municipality to reverse its decision to rezone the property at 317 Currie Road from general residential one to general residential five.GR5 zoning allows for a building with far greater bulk and coverage than if the property were zoned GR1. In May 2010 Serengeti submitted building plans to the municipality, which were approved in August 2010.It later submitted an application for the rezoning of the property from GR1 to GR5, which was approved in December 2011.There were eight objections to the application but none of the objectors lodged an appeal, said eThekwini's lawyer, Mazo Maphumulo, in April."Whether or not the development taking place on the property is 'an abomination' or 'a monstrosity' is a matter of opinion," he said.Maphumulo said he believed that the development complied with all the zoning requirements. He said that part of the Berea had been identified in the city's spatial development plan for central eThekwini as a high-density area.Serengeti has always maintained that its building is a ground-breaker in that it is the first of its kind in South Africa to use exclusive green technology and it will have unique design features, such as vehicle lifts."It will not be a monstrosity, nor unsightly. On the contrary, it is an elegant, up-market, modern development that is aesthetically pleasing ... and good for growth and development in the area," Ridwaan Gouse, a spokesman for Serengeti, maintained in court papers.But residents argued that it blocked their view, put the value of their properties at risk and compromised their privacy.Judge Ester Steyn did not specify a date for the demolition of the building yesterday...

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