Mount Residents Up-In-Arms

by Ifham Nizam

Residents in Mount Lavinia are continuing a battle against illegal contructions in the area.

The Mount Lavinia Residents Association said their campaign to save Mount Lavinia is not against the construction of apartment buildings in the area but against the failure to follow proper procedure.

“We are for sustainable development where the old world charm of Mount Lavinia is protected and also the living environment is pleasant in our town. Unplanned development of apartment complexes will worsen the traffic blocks in the area, water pressure will be low, there could be a loss of greenery, etc.” the Mount Lavinia Residents Association Co Convener Kishan Ratnayake said.

The Association said it raised its concerns with the Minister of Mega polis and Western Province Development Patali Champika Ranawaka.

The residents stressed that what they were calling for now is to temporarily halt the construction of these buildings until all approvals are checked since the builders are now expediting the work upon realizing the pressure from the residents. Since once its completed doubt action will be taken thereafter.

Ratnayake said that the authorities are taking some sort of action against developers who violate the regulations/laws. It has taken a lot of pushing to get to this stage; this should not be the case though.

 

UDA takes action

A team from the Enforcement Division of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) conducted a follow up visit to the seaside area in Mount Lavinia, along with officers of the Sri Lanka Army Liaison Office and instructed apartment developers who did not possess valid Building Permits to immediately halt construction work on their sites.

“We are thankful to Hon Minister Champika Ranawaka for advising the UDA to be more proactive and listen to the concerns of area residents as well. The UDA did a follow up visit to the seaside area in Mount Lavinia on Tuesday July 11, 2017 and visited sites where developers had submitted building permits which had expired. All these developers were instructed to stop construction immediately and obtain fresh permits if they wish to begin construction,” the Mount Lavinia Residents Association said.

Most of the sites owned by one developer were asked to halt construction since their building permits had expired.

According to residents this particular developer is the worst of the offenders among developers in the Mount Lavinia seaside area. None of their building sites had a valid building permit, when queried into by the UDA.

On Wednesday, (12 July 2017) UDA Officers were seen instructing developers who had building permits which had expired to halt construction work.

Kishan Ratnayake said that there are many apartment constructions in Mount Lavinia which do not comply with the Urban Development Authority (UDA) building regulations.

“Neither the UDA or the Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council (MC) have taken action against the developers who have violated the building regulations. We have informed the Director Enforcement UDA of these developments on June 20, 2017.”

Ratnayake added that construction of badly planned apartments have damaged neighbouring homes.

“The developers of these apartments have not compensated the home owners whose houses have been damaged, the resident noted. The law of the land needs to be implemented so that citizens of Mount Lavinia continue to have faith in the legal institutions and the government machinery,” the Association said.

“Previous governments such as that of the UNP in the 1980’s recognized the tourism potential in Mount Lavinia and implemented strict building regulations in the area. In the 1980’s, the then development of Mount Royal Hotel (today Berjaya Mount Royal) was restricted to four floors,” the Association said.

Ratnayake said that there is a problem with the existing building regulations and the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia MC had even granted approval to build 15 floors for certain constructions despite the fact that the existing road infrastructure, sewerage facilities, water supply facilities and electricity distribution facilities have not developed since the 1980’s.

Now the builders get the Certificate of Conformity (COC) approved and then build a further 14 floors at times. This is a scam, he said adding that those who pay upfront for say a 14 floor condo don’t get their title when they occupy the apartment, but have to wait years to get it.

“What happens is that the builder pays a penalty of Rs. 100,000 for breaking the law and then they are free to give the titles to the owners. This is happening too frequently now,” the Mount Lavinia Residents Association said.

There should be height restriction on new and existing buildings in the sea side of Mount Lavinia as it lies in the main flight path of aircraft which fly to Ratmalana Airport, residents say.

 

Points of discussion proposed by Mount Lavinia Residents Association Committee Members with Patali Champika Ranawaka – Minister Mega Polis and Western Province Development

The rule of law

> There are many apartment constructions which do not comply with the UDA Building Regulations in Mount Lavinia. Neither the UDA nor the Dehiwela Mount Lavinia Municipal Council has taken action against the developers who have violated the building regulations. We have informed Director Enforcement UDA of these developments on 20th June 2017.

> The construction of badly planned apartments has inflicted damages on neighbouring homes. The developers of these apartments have not compensated the home owners whose houses have been damaged.

> The law of the land needs to be implemented so that citizens of Mount Lavinia continue to have faith in the legal institutions and the government machinery.

> Previous Governments such as that of UNP in the 1980’s recognized the tourism potential in Mount Lavinia and implemented strict building regulations in the area. In the 1980’s, the then development of Mount Royal Hotel (today Berjaya Mount Royal) was restricted to four floors

> There is a problem with the existing building regulations and the Dehiwela Mount Lavinia Municipal Council had even granted approval to build 15 floors despite the fact that the existing road infrastructure, sewerage facilities, water supply facilities and electricity distribution facilities have not developed since the 1980’s.

> There should be height restriction on new and existing buildings in the sea side of Mount Lavinia as it lies in the main flight path of aircraft which fly to Ratmalana Airport.

Severe load on existing infrastructure

> There is severe traffic congestion during school opening and closing times in the seaside area as there are three major schools in the vicinity (St. Thomas College, Girls High School and Buddhist Ladies School).

> If there is a fire hazard during the school opening and closing times if a fire breaks out in a residence or an apartment complex as a fire brigade vehicle will not be able to access the affected building due to severe traffic congestion

Human Rights of present residents of Mount Lavinia

> The residents basic human rights are been violated the  – right to live, breath clean air, access to water, and other facilities like playgrounds and walkways and the right to enjoy a nice environment.

Heritage

> Mount Lavinia has Colombo’s best beach and is known as the Golden Mile. Residents of other parts of Colombo city come to enjoy the beach which is one of the only places where free enjoyment can be gained. Tourists from foreign countries also frequent the beach and only Negombo in the North of Colombo has a similar beachfront, but is over 25 km from Colombo. Unplanned development of this area will spell disaster to the local tourism industry.

> The old colonial splendour of Mount Lavinia Hotel, the historical buildings of St. Thomas College which are over 150 years old and also the colonial style houses on the by lanes of the seaside in Mount Lavinia all add an old world charm and need to be protected for the posterity of future generations.

What is proposed?

> Limit the maximum height of buildings in Mount Lavinia Seaside to 4 floors as was the regulation in the 1980’s

> Prevent the demolition of buildings which are in excess of 50 years old and are architecturally important as they contribute to the old world charm

> Protect the seaside of Mount Lavinia as a tourism/residential area by regulation.

> We propose the government and the UDA take steps to protect the human rights of existing residents of the seaside in Mount Lavinia. This the right to enjoy a salubrious environment, adorned with greenery.

1 Comment for “Mount Residents Up-In-Arms”

  1. Brainmaster

    I would say, Mr.Lavinia is already lost, spoiled…..

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