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Saxonwold residents are now threatening legal action should the City of Johannesburg give the green light to an illegally built mansion situated within the multimillion-rand Gupta compound.
Neighbours of the Guptas are now demanding compensation, decreed in a council building ordinance, for the “loss of value, privacy and amenity” to their homes and lifestyles, with some no longer able to enjoy their pools and gardens because of what they call the “triple-storey monstrosity”.
This week, a team from the city council’s building committee conducted an inspection of the property, but the council told the Saturday Star that while it had reached a decision on the illegal building, it would not make it public.
The Gupta family have applied to rectify the illegal alterations to their mansion.
Last month, the Saturday Star revealed how the Guptas had come under fire from their neighbours over illegal building extensions in the compound, including that the size of the building footprint was 170m2 more than allowed by the Johannesburg Town Planning Scheme. Other violations included height restrictions, violation of the Architects Act and the number of dwelling units per site.
The council told the Saturday Star that the alterations deviated from the building’s previously approved plans.
Some neighbours stated in their submissions to the council that they were now forced to “go to the considerable expense of purchasing and planting mature trees and increase (the) height of (our) walls”.
In one angry submission, a neighbour lamented: “The illegal building is so close to our dwelling - with windows and balconies overlooking, resulting in our entire lifestyle having to change as a result of noise levels, dark rooms and overlooking into private spaces. We can no longer enjoy the privacy of our own pool and garden. It is very difficult to live in our house.
“The overall result violated the privacy of all those living on the property. The building has severely damaged the value of our property and we will certainly be looking for compensation in this regard.”
The entire development was “rude” and “inconsiderate”, he said. “The buildings are ugly and insensitive to the neighbourhood. The scale of the building is out of proportion to the size and shape of the property. The development does not acknowledge the character and nature of the suburb and surrounding homes.”
Another resident slammed the Gupta family for “flouting” the council’s building regulations and showing a “blatant disregard” for the rights and amenity of surrounding owners. “The structures on the site are insensitive to the suburb of Saxonwold and have damaged the privacy and value of adjoining homes.”
Another resident wrote: “In proceeding with the construction of the current structure, scant regard was paid to the impact on the rights and amenities of neighbouring properties. I have, on two occasions, noticed the presidential motorcade visiting the applicant and I expect that political connections will not be a factor when considering the application.”
The Guptas had “paid no heed” to the town planning scheme, residents claimed.
“The controls in the town planning scheme are there to govern built form. In this case, the three-storey dwelling house already exceeds norms and standards for Saxonwold and environs,” read one submission. “The applicant has persistently continued with construction, which has severely impacted on surrounding properties with scant regard for local residents’ concerns.
“Having built unlawfully, the applicant now seeks to legalise the illegal excessive coverage rather than first having complied with existing legislation and controls. This conduct is not acceptable.”
Another stated: “The applicant is trying to present a fait accompli to the City of Johannesburg but actually the parts of the building that constitute the illegal coverage should be demolished.”
The aggrieved residents maintain that were the council to give the building the go-ahead, a “dangerous precedent” would be set.
Nthatisi Modingoane, the spokesman for the City of Johannesburg, said the application could not be made public because it was still before the planning committee. - Saturday Star