Illegal building sticks out like sore thumb

An artist's impression of the development.

A developer putting up a block of flats in Observatory has been ordered to stop work for not having heritage approval and for trying to build an extra storey that it isn’t on the plans.

The pillars protruding from the sixth floor of the development in Anson Square are seen as a betrayal by members of the local civic group who say the developers went back on an agreement with them.

Observatory Civic Association spokesman Mark Turok said the result was an eyesore that towered over the heritage-rich suburb.

The problem could have been avoided, he said, if the developers had stuck to their original amended plan for a six-storey building mostly concealed by surrounding trees.

““The building has been a long process in the making. They called a meeting and listened to our concerns as a community, they even complimented us on our proposed changes. They eventually called saying that they would drop one floor. We supported the lower building as it fits into the environment better even thought the building is only one metre lower than the previous plan.

“We even got the community to support it, and, at the end of the day, nobody objected because we negotiated on improved arrangements.

“Suddenly they came back and said that the client wants an extra floor after two years of going around getting the community to support it,” said Mr Turok.

But according to the City, the developers never had planning approval for a seven-story building in the first place.

It has also emerged that the plan for the development, which is in a heritage overlay zone, never went before Heritage Western Cape for approval.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said the City had approved plans for a six-storey building only.

When the civic association warned that a seventh storey was being added, the City issued notice on Monday July 17 ordering the developers to cease work on the seventh storey.

“An application would also have to be made for an administrative penalty,” said Ms Little.

“A notice was issued on July 17 and the developer has to cease all works and submit an application. In addition to having to cease work, an application would also have to be made for an administrative penalty,” said Ms Little.

Heritage Western Cape also investigated after getting complaints from the public, and CEO Mxolisi Dlamuka said they found the heritage approval despite it being in a heritage overlay zone.

“HWC has concerns about the impact that the development has on the heritage resources on site and the environs,” said Mr Dlamuka.

They issued an order on Thursday July 20 for all work on the building to stop and are now seeking legal opinion. “Only a court of law will be able to take a decision as to what should happen next,” said Mr Dlamuka.

When the Tatler asked the City for the developer’s details on Friday August 4 we were referred to GVK-Siya Zama, the construction firm, which redirected us to the Daleglen Property Group. The company acknowledged receipt of our questions on Thursday August 10, but when the Tatler followed up with them on Tuesday August 15, the group’s residential portfolio manager Fern Knight said only the “landlord” would be able to comment. However, she would not say who that was. She agreed to forward questions, but by the time of going to print no response had been received.