The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube , Online News Editor
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has barred home owners from turning their properties in the city into weddings and functions venues amid revelations that only 21 of such venues are legally registered with the local authority.
Over the years a number of residential properties in the city have been turned into weddings and functions venues with the property owners taking advantage of the lack of upmarket garden venues in the city. However, the local authority has declared the move illegal noting that the venues were a nuisance to their neighbours.
According to a council confidential report, facilities that can now host weddings and functions are community halls, places of assembly, social clubs, institutions (colleges, schools and creches), stadia, hotels and recreational facilities. BCC has since come up with a policy where all venues have to be located away from residential properties in a bid to bring back peace and tranquility within residential zones.
“Weddings and functions venues in residential properties have become a trend over the past decade with people looking to cash in on the trend, much to the disappointment of neighbours who prefer peace and solitude within their neighbourhoods. This policy serves to establish a basis on how to manage and control weddings and functions venues by relocating them away from residential properties and restrict them to suitable zones that can cope with such uses. It aims at bringing back peace and tranquility within residential zones,” reads the council report.
The local authority noted that these venues began with just two in the city- Green gardens and Grand Palm lodge- but the trend has since grown to unprecedented levels hence the need to intervene and ensure sanity prevails.
Council noted that anyone wishing to operate a wedding and functions venue must be issued with a development permit in line with Statutory Instrument 216 of 1994, Regional Town and Planning (Use group regulations).
“The city has to monitor these activities within residential developments as to prevent any nuisance that might arise due to the operation of the weddings and functions venues. Over the time, council has received numerous complaints and negative comments from neighbouring property owners, complaining about noise nuisance, littering and fouling of the surroundings, blocking of access roads and invasion of privacy.
“On the other hand applications for these venues seem to be on the rise, there has been a sudden crunch on these during these Covid-19 times. Any neighbour could handle one or two raging weddings a year, however, in what has become a weekly fantasy island event, neighbours are fed up and are throwing every law possible in the hope of shutting them down,” reads the report.
Some of the negative impacts posed by these weddings and functions venues, as identified by the BCC’s town planning department are; noise pollution, lack of ablution facilities, pollution, lack of parking space and traffic congestion, most of the properties do not have the capacity to accommodate over 100 people, risk of food poisoning and the illegal serving of alcohol within residential properties.
The local authority further resolved that the 21 weddings and functions venues legally registered with BCC will be the only ones allowed to operate while no other new applications will be entertained.
“The existing weddings and functions venues are to be left operating and enjoy existing oversight, however, should they cease operations for a period longer than 24 months, the development permit shall lapse and become invalid.
On the other hand, the existing weddings and functions venues which pose the abovementioned challenges shall be dealt with in terms of the conditions of the respective development permits. Depending on the challenges posed, the respective development permit might be revoked by council,” reads the report.