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Milnerton Central grappling with an uptick in illegal establishment of boarding houses

Milnerton general residential area and infrastructure. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Milnerton general residential area and infrastructure. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 2, 2022

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Cape Town - The Milnerton Central Residents Association said it was considering legal action against property owners establishing boarding houses in the area without zoning approvals after what is said was little progress from the City in acting against such property owners.

The association said unscrupulous operators were buying properties and building backyard accommodation without proper zoning approvals and/ or using their properties for purposes not allowed for, according to zoning rules. It said these cases were escalated to local City authorities, but there has been little to no progress.

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This as the City is currently hosting public meetings on its eight draft Integrated District Spatial Development Frameworks, and environmental management frameworks (EMFs); and the draft municipal spatial development framework, with the public comment open until August 30. The Milnerton area held its meeting last Tuesday.

In February, the association lifted the lid on a “greedy landlord” who it said had disregarded land-use laws and proceeded with the construction of illegal structures in his backyard. It called on the City to act. Following this, the association said after investigations it realised that this was a much bigger problem in the area.

Milnerton Central Residents and Prayers Association chairperson Bouwer van den Eems said some ratepayers had also bought multiple properties in the area and were attempting to change the face of the suburb.

Van den Emms said this new trend had a detrimental effect on safety and security and the property values in the area. He said sanitation and water infrastructure in Milnerton Central was already overloaded with the current number of residents.

Van den Emms said the association was in the process of seeking part-time assistance from someone with a basic understanding of the legal environment who can compile the necessary documents required by attorneys.

He said they were also seeking financial assistance to protect the Milnerton Central area from what he said was a debilitating trend.

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The City said it could not comment on the matter until specific details of the property owners were furnished.

However, the Milnerton area was one of the 14 areas in which the City listed where landowners were fined for wrong and unlawful building work without a prior approved plan between April 1 and April 30 last year.

Ward councillor Anthony Benadie, who supported the association’s views, said building inspectors had done inspections on these properties on more than one occasion and issued the property owners with a cease notice.

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Benadie said the establishment of these illegal buildings had short and long-term implications. He said at face value these landowners were providing accommodation but these were not planned and had no correct zoning.

“These have an impact on your water consumption and the piping infrastructure, but most importantly, they have a massive impact on our sewer infrastructure, which isn’t built for that kind of population. There is a big, contentious and serious debate around the concept of densification.

“In a modernising world, and in the spirit enlightened view of having people live closer to their workplace so that we can kickstart the economy, densification is almost inevitable, but as the mayor has repeatedly said, densification must be done responsibly,” he said.

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Benadie said if densification was not controlled responsibly, areas end up with the illegal informal township kind of infrastructure as seen in Joe Slovo Park.

“We cannot allow any area to become out of control and end up in a Joe Slovo situation, because that’s what will happen eventually. We will continue to engage the MCRA and the City and its leadership to see how we can address this matter because it isn’t right,” he said.

Benadie said the City must increase its town planning and building inspector capacity.

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