After almost two decades of going back and forth, legal action being taken and millions of rands being spent, plans to finalise the construction of a New Apostolic Church in Framesby Extension have finally been approved by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Plans to build the church on the corners of Dick King Avenue and Caledon Street, date back to 2003, when building plans were handed in to the municipality, but had to be amended due to a lack of parking space.
PE Express previously reported that the city planner suggested the church buy or rent a portion of the adjacent playground, but the NMBM refused.
Later on, the NMBM reportedly suggested that parking bays be built on either sides of the playground, given that the church pays for half of it, but halfway through the construction of the parking areas, the site development plans were revoked.
In this previous article, project manager, Don Garcia, said that the church was redesigned and a neighbouring house bought to ensure more space for parking, which led to the building and site development plans being approved.
In another turn of events in 2012, the NMBM brought the construction to an abrupt halt with a court order, reportedly due to incorrect information being supplied with the application to build the church.
However, construction recently resumed and some residents are furious.
“It is totally unacceptable to put such a large building at that spot.
“There is insufficient parking and some parking bays were built on public open spaces,” resident, Terry Alloway, said.
“We don’t have a problem with the church, but the lack of parking.
“It will be hazardous for people to walk around cars that have been parked on the verge. It is a small community and we couldn’t see a place of mass gathering there,” he added.
Ward 9 Councillor, Heinrich Muller, said that he had been in contact with municipal officials regarding this matter and even asked for a site visit.
“I was informed by these officials via e-mail that the building plans have been approved and during the site visit, these documents were shown to me,” Muller said.
He added that the structure would not be made any smaller, but less seating on the ground level of the building had been indicated on the building plans to accommodate the parking ratio, as a certain amount of parking was needed per person.
“There have been so many issues and frustrations about this matter and a lot of money was spent. My opinion is just that things should be done right from the start.”
According to Garcia, all issues have been resolved and they have been given the final go-ahead by the municipality.
“The church plans were modified and improved and there is nothing funny going on.
“We cannot change the outside of the building, but the seating capacity has been reduced to meet the parking regulations,” he recently said.
There will probably have to be two church sessions but it is now a smaller church. The church has also spent approximately R25 million so far and the congregation has been having services in a school hall for the last 15 years. The construction should be completed sometime next year,” he added.
PE Express is in possession of the document of approval sent by the municipality on December 9 last year.
Municipal spokesperson, Mamela Ndamase, said that following the court order, the applicant ceased operations and sought approvals to regularise activities on site.
After applications to remove restrictive conditions and for parking, the Municipal Planning Tribunal only partially approved the application in October 2018, as parking was still an issue.
“The applicant then launched an appeal in November 2018, which was later withdrawn.
“The applicant proceeded to submit a site development plan (SDP) for a reduced church capacity and utilised the Department of Transport parking parameters, which requires parking to be provided per seat in the building,” Ndamase said.
“Unfortunately, the parking requirements do not require parking to be in terms of the potential capacity of the building.
“Therefore, based on the SDP submitted by the applicant, the parking provided on site matched the number of seats indicated in the drawing,” she added.
“The SDP and building plans were approved based on what the applicant presented.”
She emphasised that if the church accommodated more people than represented in the approved plans or utilised the space depicted in the SDP, the municipality would be compelled to institute measures to ensure compliance.
“Upon completion of the construction, the municipality will certify if the development is in terms of the approved SDP and building plans, by issuing an occupancy certificate.
“Therefore, the operations currently taking place on site are deemed lawful based on the aforementioned outline,” Ndamase said.
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