Maitland residents expressed their frustration over a planned Kensington Road housing development at a community meeting held on Wednesday 28 August.
The Abdullah Haroon Learning Centre on Coronation Road was packed to the rafters as residents gathered to discuss the proposed plans.
A number of concerns were raised including the need for housing for the poor, the impact of low-cost housing on the property value of existing homes, the impact of traffic, the possible loss of views, the lack of infrastructure to serve the growing population; and the social ills that “usually accompanies” low-cost housing.
Many said they first learned of the plans after reading an article (“Kensington Road earmarked for housing”, 20 August 2019) in the People’s Post.
Abduragmaan Ernstzen, a resident, said the matter had last been discussed at an engagement with the City of Cape Town in 2016. He said residents had objected to the development back then.
Claims were made that the City, along with Helen Jacobs, councillor for Ward 56, had turned a blind eye and carried on.
Residents suggested the City should look at alternative areas in Kensignton and Factreton better suited to developments like these. Ideas to consider the remaining piece of land for the upliftment of the community or to provide housing for Maitland backyarders were also raised.
Residents said they have seen the negative impact similar developments by private developers have had on communities. They said the new flat tenants, who usually weren’t from Maitland, brought with them social ills such as drugs, littering and crime.
Charne Burger, a resident, called for unity. She said it was up to residents to ensure their voices were heard at every project meeting to be held moving forward.
Faiek Fredericks said they are slowly losing their community to outsiders and the City has failed to consider ratepayers. He said something needed to be done. He warned that opposing projects like this could carry a high emotional and financial cost as legal steps may have to be considered.
Amanda Samie said other communities like Bo-Kaap have succeeded in halting projects like these and they would consider seeking advice from these community leaders to ensure proper steps were taken.
Residents are expected to show their commitment to opposing the development plan at a public meeting to be held at Maitland Resource Centre on Thursday 5 September at 19:00. City officials and residents from the Sixth Avenue squatter camp are expected to attend the upcoming meeting.
Residents expressed their disappointment at Jacobs’s absence from the meeting held on Wednesday.
Jacobs previously confirmed she was aware of the community members’ concerns and promised she would engage with them. She did not respond to questions on her absenteeism.