Lodge plans blocked

The building in Victoria Road, Woodstock, which the former tenant tried to develop into a "rent a room by the hour lodge."

Quick action by Woodstock residents put a stop to a plan to open a lodge renting rooms by the hour.

Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, said the City had issued a notice to cease works last Tuesday, May 21, as plans for the development had not been submitted for approval.

Woodstock resident Mark Finch, who stays close to the proposed development on the corner of Victoria Road, first noticed a bright light shining from the building on Tuesday night, May 14.

As he suspected construction would be taking place on the property, Mr Finch spoke to the man who is renting the property to find out what was happening there.

He also asked a co-worker to have a look inside the building after construction workers allowed her to come inside to see what they were building.

During a tour of the site, one of the workers told Mr Finch’s colleague about the plans to open a “rent a room per hour lodge” which would have 20 rooms and be open 24-hours a day.

Mr Finch alerted the owner of the property, who does not want to be named but whose identity is known to the Tatler, the City of Cape Town and ward councillor Patrick Chapple.

Mr Finch said he was concerned about the disturbance and increase in traffic a 24-hour operation of this nature would create.

Ms Nieuwoudt said as the property was zoned for use as a boarding house, no public participation was needed.

However, she added: “A building plan showing the proposed use must be submitted to the City for approval.”

Weighing in on the matter, Mr Chapple said it was an inappropriate business for a largely residential area. “Furthermore, the failure to submit building plans is not just negligent but criminal,” he added.

Meanwhile,Mr Finch has mobilised support from the community against the proposed development, with his Facebook post about it attracting 103 comments. He also created a WhatsApp chat group, which has 42 residents discussing the matter.

“This is unsettling. And needs to be put on this immediately,” Gavin Smith commented.

Malika Harris’s comment called for a “mass protest against this atrocity against our community”.

Another resident, Donavan Cook, created an online petition which has been signed by 1 100 people.

Maj Hakim, also from Woodstock, said the petition gathered support from Woodstock and neighbouring communities.

“It supported our plea to not allow a one-hour sleep-and-go operation,” he said.

Samantha Alexander,who signed the online petition, said she did not want to see an increase in crime in the area, where the level of criminal incidents was already high.

“Hotels that charge per hour accommodate and encourage sex workers, sexual assault, rape, child abductions and human trafficking,” she said.

Mr Chapple said it was important that planning processes were followed.

“I want to thank the community for their vigilance and the City for a swift cease-work order,” he said.

The building owner cancelled the lease with the tenant last week.

Both of them declined to comment.