A neighbourhood dispute over a “monstrosity” two- storey office park in Cambridge has left residents frustrated and feeling their privacy will be compromised.
Mantis Business Centre in Byron Street with its ground level car park and 10 office units on the second storey, has been the cause of residents’ unhappiness since the building went up last year.
The residents who all share a boundary with the property, told Saturday Dispatch they were not consulted or informed by developer, Property CB, of its intentions. One of the residents, Le-Anne Birch, 43, who lives with her 81-year-old mother nearby, said they were approached by the property owners to sell up.
“They initially came with a different plan that showed single storey townhouses and wanted to buy my mom’s house for parking. “We didn’t take the offer but they made my mother sign documents giving her consent to the building process.
“They were deceptive because they took advantage of my mother’s age and now we have this problem with the rear side of the building’s windows looking right into our houses,” Birch said. She said they were offered about R600000 to sell their property in Courtenay Street on the rear side of the building in 2015. Brian Bartosch, 53, who lives next door to the office park, said his biggest concern was lack of privacy.
“We have been trying to stop this building for the past six months now when it became clear what they were building.
“They refused to tell us what their plans were for this monstrosity until I saw the structures being put in place for the second storey.
“It is ridiculous that they claim they are within the building rights because I now have no sunlight in my yard and my family’s privacy is a thing of the past,” Bartosch said.
He said he called Buffalo City Metro officials out to inspect the site whom he claims “would not have approved the building had they seen the building” before construction had started.
Another resident, Marion Hannabus, 58, who has been living in the area for 14 years said the two-storey building was unnecessary.
“This plot was zoned for a business many years ago but then it was vacant for a while until they [Property CB] purchased it and because of that they can do what they like.
“I wasn’t consulted about any plans to build ever and the plans from 2012 didn’t have back windows now there are two balconies looking down into our backyards and houses.
“Our privacy is gone now and can you imagine all the noise that would come with this?”
Residents claim they were not consulted during construction. They claim that only communication received was that it would be a townhouse development.
Property CB’s director Shane Williams told the Dispatch he was aware of the disgruntled neighbours’ complaints but claimed he was within his zoning rights.
“All our plans were approved and this is a business zoned property. Our initial plan was to erect an apartment complex and we had tenants lined up but we decided to turn it into an office park instead.
“This was our way of listening to the complaints and having traffic come in at set hours seems more reasonable than 24 hours a day noise.
“I think the office park would be great for Cambridge.”
At the time of writing, BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya had not responded to questions. — firstname.lastname@example.org