City of Cape Town lashed over spatial planning

Cape Argus

Former mayco member Brett Herron’s statements that the City has reneged on its commitment to redress apartheid spatial planning have led to other land and housing activists speaking out.

“It seems that the City of Cape Town is almost always in a constant state of turmoil and even in conflict with its own residents.

“This time we have a governing party councillor claiming that the City and province are intent on perpetuating inequalities in Cape Town,” said Lester September, chairperson of the Forum of Cape Flats Civics.

“This is disturbing to grassroots civil society, as we have some idea what is meant by the assertion. For some time we in grassroots society have seen how the City is doing everything in its power to stop the reversing of apartheid spatial planning via the promotion of inner-city and inner-suburb affordable social housing.”September said there was mounting evidence that apartheid spatial planning, manifested in the sprawling Cape Flats, contributed significantly to the water crisis.

“Apartheid spatial planning relegated the historically disadvantaged to the limits and outskirts of society, where they still remain, but the City of Cape Town perpetuated the relegation of the poor and working class to the verges, where this has accelerated to such as extent over the last 10 to 11 years,” he said.

Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance chairperson Philip Bam urged the City to clean up its act.

“The spatial planning design has to be reversed in every development the City has planned. The city has to urgently speed up the delivery of housing and cut all the red tape,” he said.

Bam said that if there were delays in housing projects, councillors must be held to account to the community to explain what’s going on.

“If we don’t solve the housing problem we are going to see more protests and more disruptions,” Bam said.

Initially, the City had proposed that social housing giant Communicare buy land in Salt River earmarked for social housing from the City well below its market price.

The 1.7 hectares of land is valued at R144 million, but the City was willing to sell it for R1.8m to build a R715m high-rise building.

In exchange, 300 of the 850 housing units in Salt River would be allocated to social housing – reserved for households with a monthly income of between R1 500 and R15 000.

However, this was blocked at a council meeting in October. Herron resigned as a result of this. He also lambasted the DA for not supporting social housing in the inner city.

Reclaim the City Woodstock chapter leader Deena Boscha said: “The City is dragging its feet and it cannot go on like this. The fact of the matter is that they don’t want to provide social housing and that’s what the DA right wing want.”

Boscha said that politicking within the party could not be the root cause of the city holding back on much-needed services.

Former mayor Patricia de Lille said she tried to intervene in the matter while she was still in charge.

“When I came back after the four days that my DA membership was suspended, I saw that they were going to stop the area base management (where we focused on community needs) and stop the transport and urban development authority.

“When I found out that there were attempts, I realised that they did not want social housing in the inner city.”

She said she did her best to try and find out why Herron was blocked from various projects.

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