More than half the plots earmarked for backyarders in Cape Town's southern suburbs are on wetlands

2018-12-13 11:13
Abdul Dhansay of Delta Built Environment Consultants briefed residents on progress with the Greater Retreat Housing Projects. (Photo: Barbara Maregele)

Abdul Dhansay of Delta Built Environment Consultants briefed residents on progress with the Greater Retreat Housing Projects. (Photo: Barbara Maregele)

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More than 60 properties on at least 100 hectares of land have been identified for possible housing developments in several Cape Town southern suburb areas.

But more than half of them are on wetlands, residents were told at a meeting at the Grassy Park Civic Centre on Monday night, GroundUp reports.

At the meeting, called to brief residents on the progress of the Greater Retreat Housing Projects, several residents raised complaints.

Abdul Dhansay, project manager of Delta Built Environment Consultants (Delta BEC), said 44 of the properties belonged to the City of Cape Town, 13 to the provincial government, three were owned by the national government, three were privately owned and the ownership of one was yet to be determined.

About 50 residents were at the meeting with representatives from the provincial Department of Human Settlements, City of Cape Town and the team working on the project.

The project, led by human settlements, follows a wave of protests in May by hundreds of Parkwood residents, mostly backyarders. They were frustrated by the lack of housing in the area and complained about high rental, electricity and water costs.

Last week, a Parkwood community leader told GroundUp that backyarders complained that they had been kept in the dark about the project's progress.

On Monday, Dhansay gave residents a snapshot of what the housing project could look like if at least half of the properties were used.

Dhansay said 66 properties on 279 hectares had been identified and assessed. Twenty-seven of the properties, on 127 hectares, were in Parkwood.

He said additional parcels of land could be added to the project in the future.

Read: Parkwood housing project in Cape Town gets underway

Dhansay said that the properties found to be more favourable would go to the top of the priority list. He said many of the sites might need to be rezoned for housing.

"One of the sites is in a critical biodiversity area and 34 had wetlands on them," he said.

"Where wetlands are present, this could pose a potential problem and maybe a portion of the site will not be used," he said.

Dhansay said that if half the sites were acquired, "we could potentially build a total of 5 428 homes and units".

"This would include a mix of freestanding houses, semi-detached and walk-up apartment blocks. As we increase the density on the site, we can accommodate more units."

"If you look at freestanding houses, roughly 2 000 units can be accommodated based on the scenario. Using the same scenario for four-storey apartments, we could build about 8 000 units. This is just based on one development scenario," he said.

Most residents applauded as Dhansay ended his presentation, except for several members of the Gatvol Capetonian group seated at the back of the hall. They also heckled throughout the event. Several police and law enforcement officers monitored the meeting.

'We don't want any Guptas here'

At question time, tensions flared as residents raised various complaints and objections, particularly with the establishment of at least two of the steering committees set up to represent residents on the project.

Resident Aubrey Roberts said: "There are people in Pelican Park who are on the waiting list for almost 30 years. It's not fair that youngsters have houses there. We cannot allow this to happen again."

Charles Daniels, of the Lavender Hill Civic Association, said residents in Ward 68 were unhappy about the process followed for the project thus far.

"We have asked for this presentation and details on each of the companies involved in this project because we don't want any Guptas here. We haven't received anything yet," he said.

Also read: City of Cape Town delays decision on social housing project

"They (the government) are pushing this thing through without proper consultation. What happened at Steenvilla, where people have been evicted? At the end of the day, our people will be evicted again … They can't come here and tell us what we want," he said.

Parkwood resident Rashaad Allen said residents in his area were unhappy about the manner in which the Ward 66 steering committee was elected.

"They were elected in a private room. The community wasn't invited. People in Parkwood are angry because they don't think the people on the steering committee will represent them as they want. A letter was given to subcouncil about this issue," he said.

Sharon Davids, a resident of Steenvilla, asked the department to do an audit on the development to put a stop to evictions there.

In response to questions, Thando Mguli, head of the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, said that the province had decided to prioritise people over the age of 35 when they allocated free homes.

On the steering committees, Mguli said they would return early next year to meet with wards separately to resolve the matter.

Read more on:    cape town  |  environment  |  housing  |  service delivery

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