Affordable housing plans put on hold

A city block, viewed from the corner of Kendal and Main roads, Diep River.

Diep River’s Mouquet Farm could give way to high-density and commercial development with “gap/affordable” housing, if the City’s proposals for a carbon-neutral demonstration project there goes ahead.

However, City officials are keeping mum about these plans and say they have been put on hold.

Councillor Carol Bew said the development was discussed at sub-council on Wednesday October 17, but, when we asked for the documents, we were told the Mouquet Farm item was unavailable because the sub-council members had asked for amendments and summarising of the item and it would be heard again at the final sub-council meeting for the year, Wednesday November 21.

But plans to develop the site for Reinventing Cities, a global competition organised by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, were discussed at an earlier sub-council meeting, held in September, and the documents are available online.

The2.4hectareMouquet Farm, on erven 78772 and 78792 is bounded by Main Road, Kendal Road, Myburgh Road and Greenland Road. It is zoned public open space and a strip of transport zone allocated for road widening, and single residential dwelling.

At its centre is a house that the City says is more than 60 years old and is being rented.

City documents say the tenant has not been given notice but would “be requested to vacate if she is in breach of her contract, or when the property is required for municipal purposes.”

In2015thevaluationwas
R55 million and is presently R240m.

The City says it could generate “significant new rates and taxes revenue from a new development on the site”.

The C40 launched a worldwide competition in November 2017 encouraging the private sector and communities to devise carbon-neutral development solutions and designs. In Cape Town, five underutilised publicly owned sites were identified and apart from the one in Diep River, the others are:

* A car park on Hertzog Boulevard, Civic Road and Old Marine Drive, zoned utility.

* Bishop Lavis Town Centre which has a public library, community hall, small community park and open parking area.

* The north-western portion of the Grand Parade, bounded by Darling, Lower Plein and Castle streets. This site was later withdrawn – possibly because of its heritage status.

* Six plots of 48 hectares in Ottery, bounded by Ottery Road and Old Strandfontein Road. They are unused, undeveloped, open space, partly wetland, with Freedom Park informal settlement at their heart. They’re a mix of limited-use, single-residential, transport and public-open-space zoning.

The City documents include comment from environmental and heritage professionals who note that the Ottery site forms part of the city’s biodiversity network and is categorised as a critical biodiversity area being a site of restorable habitat with a prevalence of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos the most critically endangered vegetation type in South Africa and are considered irreplaceable.

The Bulletin sent a list of questions to the City’s media office, asking for details of the competition, whether a public participation process had been started, who would benefit from development of the sites and whether social housing would be included.

Mayco member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, confirmed the City had advertised the competition but had not decided on any disposal of City-owned land or any development proposals.

He said the mayoral committee was still considering the report and could not provide more details at this time.

There is no residents’ association for Diep River.

In August, Councillor Carol Bew asked chairman of the Bergvliet Meadowridge Ratepayers’ Association, Mark Schäfer, for his opinion on the project.

He wrote to her saying they would not be in favour of varied tenure options. It should be outright ownership – no council-rental options that could lead to evictions and protests.

Mr Schäfer said Main Road was a major commercial and transport corridor and any such unrest would disrupt the southern peninsula and spill over into the neighbouring upmarket area.

He said most of the housing should be individually owned sectional title units with occupancy restrictions.

Mr Schäfer said despite Mouquet Farm’s proximity to Main Road, the site could easily become a middle to upper residential area and the mix should be weighted towards that market particularly on the Myburgh Road side.

“One would want to preserve the character of the area despite the provision of gap/ affordable units – so that the poor can enjoy a pleasant environment,” said Mr Schäfer.

Winnie Craythorne, a Diep River resident, said there was immense pressure for parking in the vicinity of Mouquet Farm.

“Already motorists are parking illegally on public open spaces, damaging the grassed surfaces, and this part of Diep River is in dire need of a parking garage,” she said.