Durban - A building that is going up in Chatsworth Main Road, uMhlatuzana, has upset residents who accuse a neighbour of contravening by-laws.
Residents in the neighbourhood have claimed that the owner, Ravi Govender, was building a church in a residential zone, despite their disapproval. Govender has denied the claim.
The tension has been mounting for a while among neighbours who called for the intervention of the ward councillor and the city.
Last year, residents lodged complaints against Govender, accusing him of interfering with their structures when he allegedly flouted procedures in taking down his old building.
According to the city’s building planning inspectorate, no owner of any site shall demolish or cause or permit any building to be demolished without the prior written permission of the local authority. Govender allegedly contravened this clause.
The City’s head of development, planning, environment and management planning, sent a notice ordering Govender to comply. It said he demolished the house without the approval of the City.
He was then advised to cease all the demolition work until an application was submitted and approved. But residents maintained he carried out his work without consent.
Residents claimed they had to repair their structures, which were damaged when Govender demolished his building.
They claimed Govender dug deep to prepare the new structure which is currently being built.
Resident Mervyn Ramlukan said their neighbourhood was populated with churches which were commercialised.
He alleged Govender was following suit by building a church to start a business.
“In this small area we have 36 churches, and more than 20 of them were converted from houses."
“Having another church here will create traffic congestion as we do not have extra space for parking on this road. This is not the right place.”
DA ward councillor Samantha Windvogel said there were irregularities and residents had been addressing the issue with her since last year.
“One of the main concerns is that the owner brought down a whole building without following the correct procedure."
“The current plan stipulates the existing dwelling whereas in actual fact there is now no existing dwelling."
“Residents are not against any religion, but they have stressed that they do not want any business in their residential area,” said Windvogel.
Govender said he had several meetings with residents to explain he was building a house for his children.
“I rectified the issue of the demolition with the city, and I now have all the plans approved. I do not have to get consent from the neighbours because everything is done within my property,” said Govender.
City spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said the relevant regional office had been tasked to investigate.
“The city’s requirements for obtaining approval for building plans is to satisfy the local authority that an application complies with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act,” she said.