In the recent case of Matthew Robert Michael Lester v Ndlambe Municipality and High Dune House (Pty) Ltd (514/12)

[2013] ZASCA 95, the Supreme Court of Appeal considered an application to demolish a residential home as its building plans had not been approved by the relevant municipality.

The Appellant had begun to build a bigger house higher up the slope of the dune on which his property was situated. However, this interfered with the Second Respondent’s, a neighbours’, panoramic views over the ocean.

The Second Respondent raised an objection to the building plans at the local municipality, citing the Appellant’s title deed restriction which prohibited him from having more than one dwelling on the same property.

Despite being notified of this objection, the Appellant continued to build on the dune pending a municipal decision on the Second Respondent’s objection.

The Second Respondent also made several applications to Court regarding this continuing building, on the basis that it was unlawful and had not been approved by the local municipality.

The municipality did not approve the Appellant’s revised architectural plans, and eventually sought a court order to demolish the Appellant’s building. The Appellant then sought to alter the building in order to avoid the demolition order, as he estimated that he would suffer a loss of R8 million.

The Supreme Court of Appeal held that it was acutely aware of the financial calamity and the inconvenience which the demolition would cause to the Appellant.

It also cited section 21 of National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act which authorizes a local authority to demolish a building which does not comply with the provisions of same.

The court held that the rule of law in terms of section 21 of National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act inevitably outweighed such personal considerations.

The appeal was dismissed with costs.