Densified development planned for Diep River

At the Diep River site visit last month, from left are Ward 63 councillor Carmen Siebritz; town planner Erna van Zyl and ward 73 councillor Eddie Andrews.

The area around the Diep River station could see densified development of student accommodation and social housing in the near future, according to a City plan.

Municipal documents outlining development proposals for the area as well as other parts of the city are out for public comment.

On Monday July 18, City planner Erna van Zyl led councillors Carmen Siebritz and Eddie Andrews and sub-council officials Richard White and Jody Okkers on a walk to view some of the sites that could be developed.

The tour followed a presentation at the June sub-council meeting when City official Frank Cumming said South Peninsula High School had decided not to acquire Central Primary School – the abandoned and neglected site straddling nine plots between Diep River Main Road and the railway line – because it felt the building could not be salvaged.

However, South Peninsula High School principal Zeid Baker told the Bulletin that this was not true. “Whoever reported to the sub-council has malicious intentions to scupper the school’s 16-year journey to acquire the facility,” he said, adding that acquiring the old school was even more necessary because South Peninsula High had received almost 2000 applications for Grade 8 for next year.

At the site visit, which started from Diep River station, Ms Van Zyl showed a map of the area targeted for development. It is bounded by Boundary Road to the west, Waterford Road in the east, Ruchill and Annandale roads to the north and Hanover and Luton roads to the south. The area includes Moquet Farm and Diep River train station.

Exploring the eastern side of the station prior to the visit, the Bulletin saw that a development, Tutili Place, is advertised, and demolition of the site should begin in August, according to a resident. The notice boards at the site state that it is one of the first “inclusionary housing schemes” in the southern suburbs.

According to Ms Van Zyl, transit-oriented development and urban regeneration lie at the heart of the plan to revive the area.

At the presentation, in June Mr Cumming said the City was working with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), which was planning for a station to be built at Diep River going above the railway line.

Prasa spokeswoman Zinobulali Mihi confirmed this as a future plan, saying they had been working with the City to unlock economic value through transit-oriented development for the Diep River precinct.

“These engagements and interactions are still ongoing and are a long way away,” she said.

Ms Mihi said the Diep River station precinct – along with those in Woodstock, Newlands, Observatory and Rosebank – had been identified for student accommodation and and social housing flats.

Walking along Paddington Road, Ms Van Zyl said it could become a pedestrian-only link between Diep River station and Diep River Main Road.

Across from this, is a C40 Reinventing Cities Initiative at what was the old Moquet Farm.

This is one of the sites entered into a competition for planners to create a carbon-neutral, mixed-use development. Ms Van Zyl said the winners of the competition should be announced soon. She added that the house at the centre of the 2.4 hectare site would not be bulldozed as it had heritage value.

Crossing De Waal Road, she said the plan was to widen the road to accommodate more traffic. And Glenbridge Special School and Research Centre, at the corner of De Waal and Main roads, would be retained as a heritage building.

Ms Siebritz said the proposed project could bring major improvements to the area. “However, we should not forget to include the residents in terms of public participation. Their opinion certainly matters.”

Mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos, said the purpose of the precinct plan is to improve transit-oriented development near Diep River station; to unlock the development potential of public-owned land; and to explore options for long-term development.

“The principles of residential led, mixed use development around public transport facilities in district nodes are included in the City’s TOD (transit-oriented development) strategic framework that was approved by council in 2016, as well as in the the revised municipal spatial development framework (MSDF), and the draft district spatial development frameworks (DSDF) and environmental management plans (EMF) for the City’s eight districts that are currently available for public comment. Written comment should be submitted by Tuesday August 30 on the ‘Have Your Say’ portal of the City of Cape Town.”

Ms Van Zyl said everything was in the planning stage and would take a very long time to finalise. She said whatever happened, the community would be advised and included.

At the site visit in Edgeware Road where Central Primary School is located are, from left, Ward 73 councillor Eddie Andrews; sub-council manager Richard White; town planner Erna van Zyl and Ward 63 councillor Carmen Siebritz. At the back is the sub-council’s Jody Okkers.
A map showing the area around the Diep River station that could see densified development of student accommodation and social housing in the near future.