Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter
A DOUBLE storey building being built at the corner of Teviotdale and Granta close to Alpes Road in Vainona has ignited fierce debate among residents of Ward 17 who are questioning the legality of the structure.
Residents are arguing that the building, which the building contractor says is a shopping complex, is too close to the road and residents have been wondering if the developers were following the City of Harare’s building by-laws
For a number of months, residents of Ward 17 have been discussing safety risks posed by the building given that it is too close to the road.
The residents have been arguing that the development is way over the property boundaries in comparison to other properties further up the road.
They have also been saying they find it strange that the City of Harare had approved the building of such a structure so dangerously close to the road.
“Buildings must be at least 5 metres from the boundary. This is so dangerous honestly, we call on the CoH (City of Harare) to do something,” said a resident.
“That building is barely 3 metres from the boundary. The CoH never seems to check whether planning permissions are being adhered to these days,” said the resident.
However, the City of Harare’s acting chief development control officer Mr James Mazvimba advised residents that the issue was once raised on the same residents’ online platform and investigations were made, leading to the realisation that the development was approved by the local authority.
“This issue was once discussed some time ago which led CoH (Building Inspectorate, Development Control, Traffic sections) to carry out a joint site visit. The inspection revealed that the building is indeed approved by CoH. If my memory serves (me) right, the findings were shared on this group and it generated a significant adverse reaction from residents. The long and short of it is that the building is approved by CoH,” said Mr Mazvimba.
But residents insisted the building was a danger to the community despite the approvals the developers got from the municipality.
“If the approved plans had a parking area at the front that means the cars would park on the road?” a resident questioned.
The majority of the residents on the Ward 17 online platform concluded that the double storey development does not look safe to the public as it is way too close to the road more than many other development and for this reason they are deeply concerned.
Ward 17 Councillor and Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume confirmed that he had seen the concerns from residents about the double storey development. He said he has encouraged residents to do a formal letter so that the local authority can take up the matter officially and conduct the necessary investigations.
“I have seen concerns from residents on the Ward 17 online platform and I hope residents will do a formal letter so we can investigate. I understand that the building is said to have been approved. However, we will investigate on the compliance part.
“When a development is said to have been approved that’s not the end. There is need to check on compliance and we will do that,” said Cllr Mafume.
Mr Mazvimba took time to advise residents on some key areas that were taken in approving the development.
- The property in question is zoned Suburban Commercial Zone 1F according to Borrowdale Local Development Plan No 32. It means commercial rights were granted through an enactment of a statutory spatial plan (BLDP No. 32).
- In this zone, one can build up to the boundary that is to say there are no building lines from both the road side and other sides which are not roads.
- Maximum stand coverage should be 75 percent.
- Maximum permitted height of buildings is two to seven storeys.
- Onsite parking provision is at a ratio of three bays for every 100sqm floor space.
Mr Mazvimba said the building was therefore approved on the basis of the above development parameters.
However, residents maintained that despite the approval of the plans they believe that the physical siting is illegal.
Some suspect that all necessary by-laws may have been adhered to except that the builder did not measure the distance from the boundary correctly before digging for foundations.
A foreman with the building contractor, Otiman Jays Construction, Mr Lovejoy Mubaiwa, said the development was approved.
Mr Mubaiwa, however, said they had to temporarily stop construction in the initial stages due to an outcry from residents when they established that the front of building was on the side facing the road.
He said they had to change side, the front of the building will be facing, and put it at the back where there is space for parking. Mr Mubaiwa also revealed that the building was a shopping complex.
“Due process was followed on this development and we are only here as the contractors so I can’t comment much. But during the initial stages of our construction we were forced to stop briefly because of the outcry as the front of the shop was on the side of the road. So we changed it and now the front is at the back where there is space,” said Mr Mubaiwa.