City curbs Prasa plan

The proposed development includes a block of flats and about 212 rental units comprising of one-and two-bedroom units.

While the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) awaits approval to develop a portion of their land at Diep River station, it has emerged that their original plan to build 19 single-storey houses was rejected by the City of Cape Town in favour of a 200-unit block of flats.

This is according to acting executive manager at Prasa Corporate Real Estate Solutions (CRES), Kaparo Molefi.

He agreed to a meeting with the Bulletin and other Prasa officials at Cape Town station last week to discuss residents’ concerns about the plans for the land.

Earlier this year residents were annoyed with the short period given to comment on the proposed development along either side of the railway line at Diep River station (“Upset over proposed housing development” Bulletin, February 8).

Sean Tyler, who lives across the railway line, says residents were only made aware of plans to build a middle income housing development on Prasa land two months before the deadline.

Residents feel it was bad timing as it coincided with the festive season.

In October, Prasa applied to the City of Cape Town for the land to be rezoned to create medium-cost housing and a small scale commercial space.

In the application Prasa said they wish to dispose of a currently underutilised portion of erven 79204 and 79208 for residential and small-scale commercial activities. If granted permission, the land will be home to a three- or four-storey building, a business and 73 parking bays.

“No changes to the current railway infrastructure are proposed. Although the total area of the property is greater than
10 000m², only two portions of the property are to be rezoned, which do not exceed
10 000m².

However, 13 railway houses dating from the 1960s will be demolished.

According to the application, none of these homes have been identified as having heritage significance.

At the meeting, Mr Molefi said the City of Cape Town rejected the original application due to its own Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) plan, which involves areas within a 200m radius from a rail station.

Prasa Cres spokesperson, Thamie Kwintshi, said at the meeting that while they are aware of the country’s huge housing backlog and would like to contribute towards reducing this they must also be cognisant of protecting land which was a national asset.

Cres was established in 2010 and tasked with managing Prasa’s property portfolio. Mr Kwintshi said people are spending about 20% of their income on transport.

In 2017 mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said TOD was designed to deal with apartheid spatial inequality, the high cost of public transport, and urbanisation while also stimulating economic growth.

The City has identified five projects in Bellville, Philippi East, Athlone, Paardevlei, and the Cape Town central business district where they will either invest in the improvement of existing public transport infrastructure or provide new public transport infrastructure to ignite urban renewal, economic growth, and job creation in these areas. Mr Herron said the investment will take place over the next five years.

Mr Molefi said that after the City rejected the Prasa Cres application for 19 houses they went back to the drawing board and came back with plans for 200 mixed use units that will incorporate a commercial area of coffee shop and restaurant. He said the units would go for between R900 000 and R1.2m and are aimed at people earning R40 000 a month.

Meanwhile, further north along the railway line, a 15 228m2 open piece of Prasa land bounded by the Diep River canal, Massinger and Waterford roads and between Steurhof and Diep River stations, is creating a nuisance for residents living in small cottage style houses in Trent and Ian Taylor roads (“Prasa’s dangerous plot”, Bulletin, February 22).

Homeless people making a noise, lighting fires and other issues are listed in email correspondence between Prasa and residents.

Ricky Sparrowhawk, a resident in Nice Road, next to the vacant ground, wants to know why the 13 railway houses are being demolished when the problematic land could be used.

Mr Molefi says this land is reserved as a future rail corridor between the south and central lines. It is also a wetland and once it has gone it will be lost forever.

The deadline for objections to the proposed new development was Friday February 2.

Mr Molefi said they have seen the objections and the process takes about three months. Asked about traffic congestion in Schaay Road, he said it would be up to the City to decide if the road would require widening and speed restrictions because of the schools.