City eyes land for housing

Three months after a last-minute withdrawal of several City-owned properties in Goodwood from public auction, the City of Cape Town has confirmed that the land is part of an audit under way to determine sites for social, GAP and transitional housing.

Earlier this year Goodwood residents opposed plans to sell off the City-owned properties, saying it would rob the community of recreational space and create a “concrete jungle” on their doorstep (“City alienates residents with land sale plan”, Northern News, March 29).

Brett Herron, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the City was looking at creating opportunities for social, gap and transitional housing.

“As such, the land audit is still ongoing. All City land, including the properties in Wiener, Paarl, Devilliers, Hamilton streets, are a part of the audit.”

Social housing comprises flats or apartments which are built by partner agencies on City-owned land; gap housing are units for people who earn between R3501 and R15000 and can obtain a bond from the bank and transitional housing is a form of social housing delivered by registered community housing providers for applicants listed on the housing register.

Stuart Diamond, mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, previously said the City had met residents and initially considered 21 properties for disposal.

“However, after robust discussion, we took residents’ comments into consideration and decided that we would only dispose of six of the 21 properties (“Properties withdrawn from public auction”, Northern News, April 19).

The City said empty plots in the area sold for between R400 000 and R600 000.

Goodwood resident Salie Berhardien has been vocal about his discontent with the City’s decision to use the area’s open spaces for more housing. “This is tiring and we are very frustrated because we have just been through an entire public participation process. It seems the City is determined to sell off property despite residents’ concerns.”

Mr Berhardien said the open spaces in Wiener and Paarl streets were used extensively by youth during the school holiday for recreational use.

“Adults use it to exercise and the community hosts bootcamp classes on those open spaces twice a week. Many people in the area live in flats which means they don’t have any recreational spaces. If the City is to build more houses it will add pressure to the already crumbling infrastructure in the area.”

Mr Berhardien said if the City went ahead with its plans, it would also adversely affect traffic congestion in the relatively old area. “These open spaces are currently well used and contribute to social growth.”

Brian Lawson, chairperson of the Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association since February last year, said he was aware of the land audit.

“At a ratepayers meeting three months ago, members of the (Facebook) group Concerned Citizens of Goodwood were up in arms about these properties being auctioned off. At that point, the City had followed due process. Two weeks later, I heard that the process had been put on hold.”

When asked if he thought there was a need for social, gap and transitional housing in Goodwood, Mr Lawson said: “I am not averse to change. However, you get two types of people in Goodwood; those who don’t want change and others who view change in a positive light. All I am concerned about is whether the City followed due process and in this case they have. The role of the ratepayers’ association is to help residents and ensure that they get a fair hearing”.

While speaking at the fourth annual Affordable Housing Africa conference on Tuesday July 18, Mr Herron acknowledged that, to date, the City’s efforts to radically transform Cape Town’s spatial reality to enable all residents to take part more equally in the local economy had fallen short.

“The dire need for housing for Cape Town’s most vulnerable households is the single biggest challenge we are facing as a local government today. We estimate that approximately 650 000 families earning less than R13 000 a month will rely on us for some kind of help for housing between now and 2032. This is partly as a result of unemployment, slow economic growth, and rapid urbanisation – Cape Town’s population has increased by 56 percent between 1996 and 2016. This trend is set to continue.”

He said when the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority was established on Sunday January 1 this year, they pledged to turn a corner in their approach to affordable housing. “We said that from now on we will leverage City-owned assets such as land and property to achieve spatial transformation to create an inclusive urban fabric.The proposed development of the Salt River site is only the first; there are more transitional housing projects in the pipeline – in Salt River, as well as in other areas in Cape Town. In fact, our officials are doing an audit of City-owned land parcels in Goodwood and Bellville,” he said.

The Northern News sent Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg questions relating to the land audit but she was not able to respond by the time this edition went to print.