It will be released to an unnamed social housing company for a heavily discounted amount of R11.4 million and will eventually provide 820 units for low income families, the mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said.
In October, the City froze plans to transfer the land to social housing company Communicare, citing concerns about the company’s record and a need for further input.
Booi said the latest feasibility study indicated that it was possible to increase the percentage of affordable housing units on the site from 30 to 43 — “which is a substantial increase on what was originally presented in the report to Council on 25 October 2018”.
“This means the City, and ultimately our residents, will get more value out of this site. Once developed, the return on the investment in the interest of the greater public good will benefit all of us who work and live in Cape Town,” he said.
The October decision coincided with severe upheaval in the Council, including the departure of Patricia de Lille as mayor, and was cited by Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport who faces charges along with De Lille, as a reason for his resignation.
The land lies about five kilometres from central Cape Town and comprises 13 erven of a total of 1.4 hectares. It currently houses the Salt River Market and the municipal hall and is bounded by Voortrekker and Bromwell roads and the railway line.
“We faced a lot of criticism at the time about the call to refer the report back to the City directorates, but this was the right decision. The officials and the SHI (social housing institution) who did the pre-feasibility study had about eight weeks to rework the numbers and I am pleased to say that they succeeded in finding a way of providing more affordable housing units on this site,” Booi said.
The council has been under strong pressure from rights activists to provide cheap housing close to the city centre.
Booi cautioned that the development would take time.
“It’s very important to point out that this is an in-principle approval only. This is the first step in the process to implement the proposal to transfer and develop this city-owned land. The city still needs to draw up a development agreement with terms and conditions which is to serve before council for approval. It’s only thereafter, and once council agrees with the development agreement and conditions, that the site will be formally transferred to the social housing institution partner who will develop this land,” he said.