People's Post

No input in new housing

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Construction of the project is set to kick off next month. PHOTO: Kaylnne bantom
Construction of the project is set to kick off next month. PHOTO: Kaylnne bantom

Maitland residents and business owners claim they were not consulted about the new social housing project earmarked for the area.

The Maitland Mews social housing project, on the corner of Voortrekker and Koeberg roads, will see 204 housing units being built starting next month.

This development, which is a partnership among the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, City of Cape Town, Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) and Madulammoho Housing Association (MHA), aims to benefit those with a household income between R1 500 and R15 000 per month.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said the City sold the land to the social housing institution at 10% of the market value as part of its efforts to release well-located land for affordable housing in Cape Town.

A total of 121 of the 204 units will be allocated to households earning between R1 500 and R5 500. The project forms part of a broader precinct development comprising 1 200 affordable housing units in total.

But residents say once again decisions are being made with “no public participation”.

Faiek Fredericks, resident and member of the interim Maitland Resident’s and Ratepayers Association, said the group became aware of developments only “as they started going up and through what was reported in the papers.

“This is a massive development of 1 000 to 1 200 units with no public participation. Only 204 of these units are for “qualifying residents”. We already have infrastructure and service delivery issues. Since a few blocks of flats went up in the area the sewerage system collapsed. Was any impact assessment done?”

Fredericks adds: “We have a problem with the impact this will have on the already crowded community in terms of cars, water supply, electricity, the social effects like drug dealing and other social ills. There is a serious lack of policing to control crime and enforce bylaws, the situation will only become worse.”

He said backyard dwellers and those living in informal settlements were not considered.

“How many unemployed in the ward will benefit from the developments? Backyard dwellers and people living in local informal settlements will not afford the rentals, and their needs have not been met in more than 20 years. So who are these units for?”

Helen Jacobs, Ward 56 councillor, said council was looking at turning Durham Street into a one-way road for traffic ease.

She also said when the applications for the development were made the community “had a chance to comment, although they have not commented, but they still have an opportunity to discuss it.”

But business owners in the area who have been using that piece as a parking bay for many years are outraged and say they were never consulted. They say their businesses are now affected because their customers have nowhere to park.

Zubair Adam, Owner of Koeberg Pharmacy, says: “I just find it a bit strange that council did not liaise with anyone regarding the parking and I don’t know what the parking is going to be for that development. But the traffic flow is a big problem now and will be when that development comes up at this very busy intersection, so this is something that I am not sure has been cleared properly through all the authorities and I think that needs to be checked on.”

Kurt Retter, owner of Allied Fibreglass, claims they were not consulted.

He said: “We didn’t take note of the extent of it until now recently when development started, we realised it is actually happening and it’s not just a proposal. Since it has started it has severely negatively impacted our business – to the point where we have already contacted the City to find out how we can accommodate our customers and suppliers accordingly. For we have not only lost parking there, but it has caused all the business owners in the area to use the main road as parking, which was previously for our customers.” Retter said it had to make alternative plans for parking, which is costing businesses.

“We have now had to spend additional funds to rent premises next door, which is only temporary, to park our vehicles and this is costing us, and negatively impacts the business in the sense that we are putting out more money, yet losing customers.”

Hameeda Rawoot, who runs Paint Express, says finding parking has now become a nightmare every morning. “I have an automotive business, and customers need to come and pull up and colours need to be matched,” she said. “So it’s a huge problem for me, and it ends up in big fights outside here because we all have businesses. So by the time we get to work in the morning there is no space to park. No-one ever consulted us.”

Jacobs says community engagement would take place, but couldn’t specify when.

Renier Erasmus, Chief Executive Officer for MHA, says preference will be given to people who are registered on the City’s Housing Needs Register “and those living in Maitland or to those who live some distance away but are working in Maitland.” He said the tenanting process will start in July 2022, and “more communication will follow”.

Luthando Tyhalibongo, spokesperson for the City, said the public participation process occurred during the rezoning process, approved in 2019. Responding to residents’ and business owners’ concerns, he said: “Although the concerns are understood and noted, on the other side of the coin 204 families will now be able to have affordable accommodation in a well-located area, and this also means 204 new families in the area, which will directly benefit business in the area.”

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