School sale paused for public comment

2016-05-10 06:00

The sale of the former Tafelberg School property in Sea Point to the Phyllis Jowell School has been halted.

This follows an order of the Western Cape High Court after organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi took the provincial government to task, claiming they had not followed the correct legal requirements for the sale of the land.

Ndifuna Ukwazi is looking for the property to be used for affordable housing instead of a school.

A 21-day public comment and objection period is set to open, after which the provincial cabinet will decide if the sale should continue.

“We are committed to ensuring that anyone who seeks an opportunity for comment should be able to have it taken into account before the provincial government makes a rational decision about how best to utilise its assets to the best advantage of citizens,” commented Premier Helen Zille in a newsletter.

The property was to be sold by the provincial public works department for R135m, department spokesperson Byron la Hoe previously told People’s Post (“New school at Tafelberg”, 26 January).

“In its tender documents, the Phyllis Jowell School indicated that the property would be used for a mixture of purposes – that is, educational, recreational, cultural, community and commercial purposes.”

In March 2014, the property – along with three other provincially owned sites – was advertised for development by private sector investors in partnership with the provincial government.

The site formerly known as the Tafelberg Remedial High School consists of two separate erven of 1,7 hectares.

The property was presented to investors with the proposal of a mixed-use development, which would have included the creation of 155 residential units.

In the proposal, the historical facade was to be preserved and a park created in front of the building.

About 20 parties expressed interest in the development of the site (“Designs on development”, 15 May 2014, People’s Post).

However, the property was declared surplus to government needs and sold, says La Hoe.

The transfer of the property was expected within months, deputy chairperson of the board of governors of the school, Lance Katz, previously told People’s Post.

The Phyllis Jowell School has been looking for an alternative site for some time and was influenced to make an offer on the site by broader community needs and considerations, he says.

Plans have not yet been finalised for the property, but the school has set up a working committee to evaluate the best use of the site, Katz says.

The pupils of Tafelberg School moved to their new school building in 2010, which merged the primary and high schools.

The building has been standing empty since then.

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