City of Joburg orders Century to stop building student accommodation

Century Property must stop developing a controversial student housing development in Auckland Park, Johannesburg or face the wrath of the law, according to the City of Johannesburg.

Director of building development management at the City of Johannesburg Patricia Mazibuko said if the company continued to build, “disregarding the authority, they do so at their own risk” and they should not “cry foul” as they would have been served with legal notices that would “stand up in court”.

The city said Century was building the 200-bed student housing project on Streatley Avenue without authorised plans, but Century wants the city to provide reasons why its plans were not approved.

A group of Auckland Park residents has been trying to halt the development for months, arguing that it is inappropriate for the site and that it is being built without plans approved by the city. They say it will lead to a drop in property values in the suburb.

At the end of May, the city told Century to stop building, but the developer persisted. The matter went to court where Century said it was building using a provisional section of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act. The court gave the city until June 22 to ascertain whether Century had met the necessary requirements of the act. On June 18, the city confirmed it had not. Mazibuko said “there would be no excuse to continue on site under the pretences of clarity-seeking”.

Century continued to build on Monday June 25 and the city then served them with a stop notice. Century was compelled to vacate the site with immediate effect, but on Tuesday June 26, Century’s attorneys served an objection to the city.

“The matter has been taken up with the city’s legal department for legal opinion,” said Mazibuko.

Century Property’s Mark Corbett was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. He said earlier this month, however, that Auckland Park housed two of the University of Johannesburg’s four campuses and needed more student housing. “The area is a student hub and there is demand for more housing. This development lies on Streatley Avenue, which is along the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system route, and for this public transport to work, developments have to take place around it.”

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