Focus on public land

2020-02-11 06:00
The Rondebosch Golf Club covers 45.99 hectares

The Rondebosch Golf Club covers 45.99 hectares (Nettalie Viljoen)

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The City of Cape Town’s announcement of plans to renew the Rondebosch Golf Course lease for another 10 years has put a spotlight on the City’s use of council-owned land in the province.

Ndifuna Ukwazi, a non-profit organisation (NPO) and law centre, is one of the loudest voices who have spoken out against the renewal of the lease. The NPO combines research, organising and litigation in campaigns to advance urban land justice in Cape Town.

In an opinion editorial published on 28 January (“Cape Town’s course of injustice: Subsidising the rich to exclude the poor”) in the Daily Maverick, Michael Clark, a researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi, wrote: “Twenty-six years after apartheid, Cape Town remains the most spatially divided city in South Africa.” 

Clark believes Rondebosch Golf Course, located close to hospitals, schools, a police station and transport nodes, is perfect for the development of social or affordable housing.

“What makes this lease particularly distasteful ... is that the golf course virtually borders two other golf courses (one of which also sits on public land). Wealthy residents who happen to enjoy golf have their pick of which huge tract of public land they would like to utilise,” wrote Clark. 

He views the decision to renew the lease as a failure on the City’s part and says while the City blames the continued spatial injustice on a lack of available well-located land, it is missing the most obvious solution.

“(The City) owns vast tracts of land in well-located areas. Land that is unused or under-utilised, that could provide ample space for social housing and reverse the City’s apartheid legacy.”

The land he is referring to are parking lots, bowling greens and golf courses, which, he says, the City often rents out to private organisations for very little. 

Reportedly, the previous lease’s rent agreement for the Rondebosch Golf Club, covering 45.99 hectares (45 rugby fields), was R1 000 a year. The rental amount for the proposed new lease has not been made public yet.

According to Clark, Cape Town has 24 golf courses and driving ranges (10 on public land) and 35 bowling greens (26 on public land). 

Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, says the City’s recreation and parks department is assessing each golf course situated on City-owned land according to its individual merits, challenges and future potential.

Badroodien says some of the options under consideration are to potentially reduce the size of a golf course and incorporate income generating compatible uses, which may include in-fill housing opportunities. 

“The department is further committed to ensuring quality sporting facilities which form key components of all communities for multipurpose use. Our sporting facilities remain a key component to further infrastructure development,” he says. 

People’s Post asked the City on what grounds it decided to renew the lease with Rondebosch Golf Club.

Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management, James Vos, says an application, submitted by Rondebosch Golf Club to renew its lease, was circulated to all internal departments and no objections were received.

On 29 January, council approved the commencement of a public participation process to extend the lease.

“In essence, any proposed developments of Rondebosch Golf Club will always have two primary constraints, namely the impact of the Black River 1:50-year flood line, which limits the proportion of the site available for development; and access limitations, both in terms of vehicular access as well as public transport, which reduces the trip generation capacity of the site,” Vos explains. 

The golf course was designed to prevent neighbouring properties from flooding.

He says based on these limitations to the urban development of the site, its use as a golf course is considered consistent with the spatial planning and environment directorate.

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