Position Statement: Housing

Position Statement -HOUSING – GCTCA Sub-Committee

A proposed new development framework policy by the City of Cape Town will have major implications for all residents, regardless of which community they live in.

The Cape Town Spatial Development Framework (SDF), the Cape Town Zoning Scheme, and the Cape Town Densification policy, intends to guide and manage urban growth by putting in place a long-term development plan.

GCTCA is concerned about the implications of high-density development. Also of concern are the possibility of high-rise buildings, and the possibility of the urban edge in being pushed out. Both these options have been mooted by the City, but are not yet official City Policy, although Developers are very keen that the urban edge be extended.

High-density housing is linked to strains on municipal services and traffic, as well as community relations. The problem is not the desire to see greater densities, it is the emphasis on moving from the current low density situation to high density. This needs to be a gradual and well planned process, with adequate provision of infrastructure.

Higher-density housing is inevitable, as more people are moving into cities worldwide, and need to be accommodated in reasonable housing, as close as possible to jobs. Examples are Lynfrae, Claremont, where sections of the community could be higher density, and even some of the heritage areas, such as Durbanville and Constantia- while many would argue that these areas should retain their current form for tourism and environmental reasons, there should be a happy medium. The City’s intention to break Apartheid patterns will not be achieved until it finds ways of making it possible for poorer people to come into wealthier areas.

GCTCA is not opposed to high density, but calls for pockets of higher density development alongside pockets of lower density houses, and green spaces to balance high-density areas.

GCTCA wishes to put its emphasis on living spaces, rather than merely housing. Living spaces take a number of things into consideration, including green spaces, community centres, businesses, shops and transport.

GCTCA is opposed to the increasing of the city’s boundaries.
With regard to increasing the city boundary in order to build housing for the poor, because of the distance from jobs, transport costs would be prohibitive for most of the community, pushing them further into poverty.
With regard to pushing out the urban edge for the purpose of building estates for wealthy people, some in the city argue that they will encourage this (so as to encourage economic growth) in cases where the land concerned does not need to be protected, and where it is suitable for this kind of development.

The GCTCA’s position in this regard is that until:

  • The City has commissioned an independent SEA in this regard
  • The City has access to accurate population figures for Cape Town
  • There is reliable research into the effects of moving and not moving the urban edge on economic growth
  • There is reliable research into the effects of moving the urban edge on the densification policy
  • There is reliable research into the costs associated with the maintenance of the infrastructure required for new developments beyond the urban edge.
  • There has been reliable research into the effects of relocating the poor beyond the urban edge
  • The City is able to explain to us how it makes a decisions about whether the land is suitable for this kind of development
  • There has been another extensive Public Participation process with regard to the urban edge
  • There is in place another well thought through and logical policy with regard to moving the urban edge we cannot support any moving of the urban edge.

GCTCA is also opposed to high-rise buildings for areas such as Manenberg, Heideveld and Khayelitsha. Even the current three-storey buildings in these areas are the centre of many social problems, such as alcoholism, drug addiction and gangsterism. Research worldwide has shown high-rise buildings are not good for people, and have often even been linked to high rates of suicide among residents.

GCTCA wishes the City to explore creative new designs of housing for the poor, as opposed to the continued building of stand alone RDP Housing, in view of its poor usage of space, the expense attached to this kind of housing, and its effects on the need to push out the urban edge.

GCTCA believes that, because the quality of housing for the poor is often very low, there is a need for the City to commission the services of Independent Structural Engineers, who are members of Professional Engineering Associations, to undertake quality control with regard to this housing.

GCTCA encourages the City to introduce the establishment of compulsory levies among people in sectional title housing in blocks of flats, so as to ensure that the block is maintained to the satisfaction of all in the block, and administered by people in the block.

GCTCA would like to see any housing which is granted cheaply to first time buyers, or given to people free of charge, subject to the enforcement of the “No sell” rule in the first 8 years.

GCTCA would also encourage the City to accommodate people who are disabled or infirm on the ground floor of blocks of flats, or in stand alone homes.

GCTCA would also encourage the City to ensure that people who apply for first home owner status, to be screened for whether they have homes elsewhere in SA.

GCTCA encourages the City to ensure that housing developments are as safe and secure as possible, either through the planning of the housing itself, and through the provision of cctv Cameras, lighting etc.

GCTCA is concerned that people who over-populate homes are putting additional strain on the infrastructure of the City, and should be paying more for these services.

GCTCA supports the City’s planning around the Integrated Rapid Transport system, and any action taken to improve the safety and security of people, both of which will make a significant contribution to urban living going forward.

Alan Jackson

1st April 2011

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