The Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) has released its decision on the application on Erven 1098-1104 Emmarentia Ext 1.
The Emmarentia Residents’ Association (ERA) and the Greenside Residents’ Association (GRA), along with many other interested parties and an unprecedented 2 479 residents objected to this development application back in November 2015. The site comprises the block of remaining erven behind the Sunny Shell and Emmarentia Palms bordered by Barry Hertzog Avenue, Gleneagles and Linden Roads. The application was for a mixed-use development that would include a grocery chain store, other shops and restaurants and a medical day clinic and offices with 89 residential flats above it, extending up to 5 storeys in part.
As ERA and GRA, we put up a strong objection to the development because of the thousands of objections from our residents and beyond. Residents felt that the development was not in keeping with our area due to the height and intensity of development, that there was no need for other shops which would cause the Greenside and Emmarentia local business nodes to deteriorate, that the traffic would be negatively impacted and that services would be under more strain than they already are. Objectors were not against development and wanted to see medium density residential development of the site.
ERA and GRA had to use experienced lawyers and experts to make these and other technical and legal arguments at great financial (and volunteer time) cost to our organisations and we had very valid, well-reasoned and substantiated arguments. The proceedings of the Tribunal began in November 2020 and several sittings were held until September 2021, indicating the complexity and the strength of our arguments. We faced adversity but did not waiver in our commitment to put across the views of the community at every turn.
ERA and GRA made some important “wins” despite the decision that will allow a mixed-use development and we can advise that the rights approved do restrict the height – the part that will be 5 storeys will effectively reach the height of 4 storeys and similarly the part that will be 4 storeys will be the same as 3 storeys. A small open space will be provided between the development and the neighbouring townhouses, limiting the impact. In addition, the rights apply only if mixed-uses are developed, so the developer cannot develop only the shops and not the residential component. Also, the non-residential part of the development can also only be developed on the ground floor (they had applied for it on two storeys). Other conditions such as no liquor sales and a requirement for a new traffic study if required by JRA (we effectively proved that their traffic studies were unreliable), were also included.
Quite significantly and at our insistence, the MPT has also imposed conditions relating to what is called ‘Inclusionary Housing’ (a new 2019 City Policy) and the developer must provide 30% of the maximum 89 approved units to be flats that are smaller and affordable to lower-income families. The developer had argued that this inclusionary policy does not apply to this development and that they are not required to provide such, so this may prove a blow to them, while providing Emmarentia with a more integrated residential development.
ERA and GRA are disappointed that the MPT did not decide to limit the development to residential development only because we know this is what residents wanted and it is what we argued vehemently for. However, in 2019, the City approved a new policy called the Nodal Review Policy which promotes mixed use development in many parts of our suburbs and across Johannesburg generally. This development application was held back until this policy was approved by the City, because it did not originally comply with the Emmarentia-Greenside Precinct Plan and in fact, was not supported by the City Planning Department at that time. The Nodal Review Policy set aside our Precinct Plan, paving the way for developments such as this to be supported by the City Planning Department and the MPT.
The development approval process is complex and it does allow objectors to lodge an Appeal to the decision within 28 days. The Appeal Tribunal is in fact the MMCs (politicians) of the municipality, advised by officials who also may sit on the MPT. ERA and GRA will consider our options, risks and costs of an appeal, but should any residents wish to appeal the decision, please advise ERA and GRA.
ERA and GRA wish residents to know that they can be proud of the strong fight that these organisations put up on your behalf and under difficult conditions, of the unprecedented time and expertise that the members volunteered on this matter (spanning several years) and we wish to thank all residents who also contributed time, expertise and donations to this very important development objection.
ERA and GRA still have outstanding bills for lawyers’ fees and welcome any donations towards this, in appreciation of the valiant fight for our communities. Donations can be sent to:
ERA:Emmarentia Residents Association,
Nedbank: A/c: 1975051173
Branch Code: 198765 – Rosebank
E-mail POP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Payment reference: “Tribunal” (and surname)
Read the Tribunal’s full decision here: (please note – we have excluded the bulk of the contents of page 1 as well as all the contents of pages 2-8 since they contained a list of all the e-mail addresses of the more than 2000 objectors who objected to the development. ERA didn’t feel it was right to put all this information on our website without contacting each of those to whom the e-mail was addressed. Hence you will only see pages 9-12.)
Read ERA’s detailed assessment of the Tribunal hearings here
If you would like to join the ERA for a nominal yearly fee please follow this link: