Johannesburg - A R242 million social housing project urgently needed in Alexandra is on hold because of objections by residents of neighbouring Lombardy East.
City mayor Parks Tau was set to launch the 512-unit project with a sod-turning ceremony last week, but that was cancelled at the last minute when the objectors heard about it.
The Greater Lombardy East Ratepayers’ Association, in a letter of objection through their town planners, claim that approval was granted on January 27, but they had appealed against the approval of the housing development on March 23 and therefore the decision of the tribunal does not come into operation until the appeal is finalised.
Town planner Rick Raven said: “As such, the local authority at this moment in time does not have the right to use the property for any purpose other than those uses described under the present zoning, which does not permit the erection of dwelling units.”
Raven said the land was a wetland and the Department of Environmental Planning did not support the application and had told this to the Department of Urban Development which, despite negative comments, had resolved to support the application for rezoning.
Raven said the effect of a wetland was that no development could take place until a wetland study had been conducted and authorisation had been obtained from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “We are of the opinion that the appeal authority will uphold our appeal and, if it does not, we will make an application to the high court to set aside the decision and apply for an interim interdict to prevent construction,” he said.
However, the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco), which is building the houses, said the application for rezoning was approved by the City of Joburg’s municipal planning tribunal on February 16.
The wetland delineation study was submitted to the city's impact management and compliance monitoring department.
“Affirmative comments were received from that department. The objector is referring to older comments from the city. Site inspections were carried out and revised comments were received which are in support of the application,” said Mpolai Nkopane, acting chief executive at Joscho.
A company called SiVEST was appointed by Joshco to conduct environmental investigations and found the site was highly degraded. These findings were presented to the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in December.
Joshco is trying to resolve the environmental impact assessment lodged by Raven with the Department of Agriculture.