Century Properties spokesperson Japie Vos confirmed to Moneyweb that the City of Joburg stopped further building operations at the group’s contentious student housing development in Streatley Avenue, Auckland Park.
Two building inspectors arrived at the site at around 15:00 on Wednesday and ordered that all work cease immediately. According to Vos, the officials stated that if the workers failed to comply, they would be arrested.
He said Century Properties were further issued two fines for “illegal” water and electricity connections. He however denied that the connections were made illegally. “We have applied and paid and Joburg Water and City Power installed the connections themselves,” he told Moneyweb.
The developer is surprised by the city’s actions as it has been cooperating with the new building control officer and has in fact met her several times, Vos said.
Moneyweb earlier reported that the city withdrew Century Properties’s provisional approval for construction along with similar approvals to several other developers. This came against the background of a forensic investigation and the suspension of the building control officer.
Century Properties at the time maintained that the city failed to follow the correct procedure in withdrawing the notice and continued building.
However City of Joburg acting executive director of Development Planning, Chris Dyani, told Moneyweb earlier that the provisional authorisation to proceed with construction should never have been given in the first place, since the site development plan was still under consideration by the Land Use division and other documents were outstanding at the time.
It was apparently on the basis of this withdrawal that the city ordered the building operations to be stopped. It did not obtain a court order, contrary to what Dyani and ward councillor Bridget Steer said earlier.
Vos on Wednesday told Moneyweb that the developer formally responded to the withdrawal notice. It made legal representations in a letter to the city, but never received any response. Thus Century Properties will consider its options.
Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba said in a statement earlier this month there were “irregularities in the issuing of notices to developers, resulting in developments taking place without approved plans, creating a law-enforcement burden for the city, and loss of revenue”.
Residents in Auckland Park have questioned the approvals for the Streatley Avenue development, which is right behind the Campus Square shopping centre and close to the Reya Vaya bus service. It will consist of more than 200 residential units and 170 parking bays.
Resident Jane Griffiths who has been very vocal in her opposition to the development told Moneyweb earlier that the construction was proceeding despite the fact that the building plans had not been approved and questions remained around the way the developer obtained the provisional approval to proceed with construction.
Century Properties however deny any non-compliance. Vos told Moneyweb the building plans had been with the city for some time. The city recently referred these back to the developer in relation to minor technical issues and Century City is cooperating fully. Another meeting with the city is scheduled for Friday.