John Nicholson converted his backyard into a library to encourage the children in his neighbourhood to read. Picture: Jack Lestrade/Daily Voice
Cape Town - Christmas has come early for South African hero John Nicholson after the City of Cape Town finally approved building plans for his home-made library.

This comes eight months after John was ordered to remove the roof of his garage - which he has converted into a community library - because there were no building plans registered for the structure.

This came as a blow to especially children in the community, as they went to the library after school and during holidays to read and play games, and also to get a meal, for some the only one they’d get that day.

John received the good news on Friday and was ecstatic, saying his patience had paid off.

“This is brilliant and we know the City had to send the plans to each department for their authorisation. This has taught us patience and endurance.

“We want to thank everyone who has been there to support and help us even in the smallest of messages or with encouragement.”

John says he cannot say when construction on the library can start as he now has to try to find funding for the project.

On Friday, following an enquiry, Felicity Purchase, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, informed the Daily Voice that John’s building plans had been approved.

“The City’s development management department has confirmed that the building plan application for erf 162052, Seawinds was approved on Thursday, 6 December 2018,” she said.

In April, the City cautioned that John remove the roof or face a penalty of R730 following a decision by the Municipal Planning Tribunal.

The drama had started a few weeks previously when John and his wife, Gail, who have been serving the community for 15 years, were approached by a sponsor, Jean Williams of Biblionef SA.

John, of Lavender Hill, was appealing for assistance to replace the metal sheeting on his roof which had sprung a leak into his library.

But when he and Jean approached the City, they learnt that there was no plan for the makeshift structure.

John was then advised to remove the entire roof or face a penalty.

The City also told John he must apply for a land use permit and permission to operate his library.

Daily Voice