Froggy Farm residents have watched in considerable alarm as the excavation into the mountainside at No. 71 Dorries Drive was commenced in early 2012, without any stabilisation of its sides.
Poor Building Standards
Neighbours noted that cement was being mixed by hand, and various building processes flouting regulations were photographically recorded.
Mud and Water & Dorries Drive – undermining the Road
These conditions can cause holes and cracks in the tarmac, allowing water to seep through and undermine the fill on which the road is built.
By June 2013 large amounts of mud and water were being washed into the road, and the sides of the excavation being unstabilised, were collapsing. Slip circles were forming under vegetation on the edges, and then the bushes, rocks, etc., would collapse into the hole.
The road soon became almost impassable by smaller vehicles, and the City brought in trucks and earthmoving machinery to clean up the mess.
By beginning of September 2013, the view at road level frequently looked like the photo above, and City were regularly doing cleanups.
The Road, and City Services
The Ward Councillor, Simon Liell-Cock, expressed his extreme concern on this matter. After each period of heavy rain, he visits the site to photograph the continuing deterioration on the site.
The City is at direct risk through the potential impact on its servitude between No 71 and No 73 (no access to the mountain by emergency services) and on its road ( collapse of essential underground services such as electricity, water, sewage and storm water). This poses a threat to the wellbeing of the whole area through loss of these City services, including residents down the hill.
The Environment and Flooding on the Lower Slopes
Dr Geoff Brundrit, member of STCA, pointed out that during winter the storm water drains flow into the sea. The mud flowing off the excavation at No. 71 is washed into the storm water drains, and blockages continually occur, requiring Council action.
There is a threat to the environment through the contamination of watercourses and the sea from excess sediment.
What is the City Doing About the Problem?
The correspondence between various individuals and bodies such as STCA and the City is too numerous to list in detail.
In a nutshell here is a timeline of events given by Mr Peter Henshall-Howard (Head of Building Development Management) after considerable correspondence, especially an appeal to the Mayor, on 31 August 2013.
- On or around the 25th June a Notice in terms of Section 12 (of Act 103 of 1977) was served on the owner of 71 Dories Drive with a return date of 2nd July 2013;
- On 11th July as no response was forthcoming the Department’s Head : Legislation and Enforcement wrote to the owner’s architect informing him that the matter had been handed over to her section in order to commence the process to institute High Court proceedings to compel his client to furnish the required report. The architect was also informed that the City would be asking for attorney/client costs against his client.
- On 19th July a report from a geotechnical engineer was received (as called for in the Notice);
- On 22nd July a number of questions were asked regarding the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report including a request for a detailed programme of work;
- On 31st July the programme of work was submitted. The start date for work was 26th August.
- On 1st August owner was informed that he had complied with the terms of the Notice and also that acceptance of the report and works programme do not relieve him of his duty of care as provided for in Section 23 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, No 103 of 1977 (the Act) or of his obligations as provided for in Section 12(2) of the Act.
- On 16th August a Notice was served on the owner of 71 Dorries Drive ordering him to remove the mud and slush that had been washed onto the roadway.
- On 27th August confirmation that work has started was requested. The Architect was also informed that any deviation from the works programmed would viewed in a serious light.
- On 28th August I (Mr Henshall-Howard) visited the site with the City’s Building Control Officer. Following the visit two further Notices in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act were drafted to be served on the Owner of No 71 Dorries Drive to-day. (Friday 30th August)
Fast Forward almost ONE WHOLE YEAR
The owners at No 73 had been viewing with great trepidation the lack of progress in getting Mr Arendse (the owner at No 71) to comply with legislation by stabilising the stand. They had already, at their own cost, commissioned a structural engineer who knows the mountain and its vagaries well, to visit the site on several occasions over about 15 months, and give reports on developments. His reports expressed grave concerns and were supplied to the City (Mr Henshall-Howard).
The fireman’s servitude giving access to the mountain was being partly supported by a poorly designed wall (visible in the photo below), and by early 2014 a strong slip circle was seen moving under the servitude, behind the wall, towards the boundary with No. 73.
Nothing had happened on the site, except that the owner arrived in April, with three labourers. He placed sandbags along the road edge, supported from toppling by pegs and planks.
In the northwest (mountain side) corner of the stand, he made a sandbag construction that collapsed after a couple of weeks.
No work has been done to further the building work or to carry out remedial work to stabilise the excavation. What has been done is totally ineffectual. However, a high bank of sandbags is so far stemming most of the wash down of mud towards the road.
The Onset of The Rains …… Concerned Ratepayers Get Restless
The owner of No 69, which is an as yet undeveloped stand, has watched his stand slowly but surely collapsing into what is now known to all Froggy Farmers as “The Big Hole”. The owners over the road have had to deal with mud in their driveways and water flooding into their gardens. Two of these owners have had their properties on the market, but with the ugly and dangerous site being what it is, they believe that their property values have been affected, and that potential purchasers are repelled by the obviously abandoned excavation and partial building works.
As a result, a meeting was called, inviting concerned ratepayers in Froggy Farm to express their support.
At the meeting, held on Wednesday June 25th 2014, it was decided that a letter firmly demanding an update on events, and action from the City Council, would be sent to various persons including the Mayor, members of MAYCO (The Mayoral Committee), and the City Manager. The letter was compiled and sent together with a visual presentation of the events of the past two years and more since the site was excavated.
The Press – People’s Post
Journalist Monique Duval of People’s Post attended the meeting at the invitation of one of the residents, and an article was written – you can find it at the following link
Response By The Owner
Two neighbours had approached Mr Arendse and offered their help, freely given, as professional engineers and neighbours. This was not taken up.
The People’s Post asked Mr Arendse to respond to the residents’ concerns about his building site, and he sent Monique Duval an e-mail that was copied to the Mayor and various officials, as well as to one neighbour.
This mostly comprised wild accusations of racist attempts to prevent him from moving into the area, and had very insulting content. It seems to be an obvious “race card assault” to deflect from his far more obvious flouting of building and City regulations, and his lack of regard for the safety of his new neighbours. Any sympathy, friendship or good neighbourliness that Mr Arendse might otherwise have been offered, is now unlikely.
Response By The City
The City has responded that legal action is being taken. We have thanked Mr Henshall-Howard, and observed that there is thus far a history of legal action and court orders that have been ignored. We have asked for more information and have expressed our willingness to get involved where possible. A ‘DANGER’ sign and barrier to prevent children and pets from entering the site, which is undoubtedly dangers, would be a start.
We await further developments and will keep everyone advised.
Residents Association of Froggy Farm (RAFF)
Since about forty ratepayers responded to Simon’s appeal for support for an effort to work towards getting some action to remedy the disaster at The Big Hole, it has been suggested that a residents association would be a good idea, with a blog to record new events in the area.
We urge you to give your support by filling in the form – click on the RAFF header above.