Residents' complaints, zoning wrangle chops popular restaurant off Westville menu – TimesLIVE

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A popular Westville restaurant has become a hot potato, pitting residents against each other in the Durban suburb.
Constant complaints from residents, a whopping rate hike and an outstanding rezoning application forced Cape House Café to shut its doors on Sunday, but more than 500 loyal customers have signed a petition to keep it open.
The restaurant, which attracted a sizeable customer base when it opened in January last year, announced this week it would be closing, leaving 24 employees without jobs.
Cape House Café owner Indhresen Naidoo told TimesLIVE the restaurant could no longer stay open due to constant complaints from neighbours and a rate hike from R8,000 to R38,000 per month for operating in a residential area.  
Naidoo said when he bought the property he was under the impression it had commercial rights.
“Once we received the rates communication from the municipality, I immediately engaged with a town planning consultant who specialised in property rezoning.  The necessary studies and documentation was put together by early March 2021 and an application was lodged with the municipality on March 17 2021. We have been communicating with the municipality since.
“Cape House Café was not able to operate at its full capacity. We wanted to have live music and liquor, both of which would have driven our turnover tremendously. Without the appropriate rezoning and the subsequent licences, we really were cut off at the knees,” Naidoo said.
He then discovered that the venue, described as a “Covid-friendly environment with outdoor and terrace seating, delicious meals and first class service”, was not everybody’s cup of tea.    
“There were constant complaints from the neighbours about parking. Some felt that they were at a high security risk due to a higher volume of traffic. There were noise complaints about the music, which is a normal internal restaurant music system.”
eThekwini municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said customers were using the off-ramp from the M13 and verges of residential properties to park their vehicles. 
“There were also complaints that driveways were being blocked by vehicles. The enforcement action taken was as a result of complaints received form the residents in the vicinity. The Cape House Café should be located on a site that is correctly zoned in the Westville area and it needs to ensure that ample parking is available,” he said.
Mayisela added that a rezoning application was submitted but it was referred back to Naidoo as he was required to obtain comment from the provincial department of transport. 
He said no decision has been made on the application as yet.
A resident, one of several who repeatedly complained to the municipality, said she would object to the rezoning application.
The woman, who did not wanted to named, said when she bought her property, she did not expect a restaurant to pop up so close to her home.
“I have had customers parking me in, the unease of strangers parking on my driveway and the noise. This is a residential area and that’s how it should remain. There are plenty of other well-suited spots for this restaurant to relocate to. You cannot just turn a residential property into a restaurant,” she said.
Karen Pape, however, started the petition because she believes the cafe is unique.
“It’s really soothing and beautiful and it’s so refreshing that there is a place in Westville that doesn’t belong to some fast food chain. I really appreciate the bravery of the owners, who took a chance on us by opening a place like that during lockdown. For me, it really was a marker that life is beautiful again and that we are getting back to normal, that we can gather again,” she said.
 Tsungirai Kutsime worked as a waitron at the cafe.
“The customers loved us and it was a well-paying job. I have now started to look for a job. It is not easy because most restaurants don’t have vacancies. I just have to keep looking.”
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