Call for social housing at Sea Point’s Tafelberg site

353 Main Road, Sea Point, known as the former Tafelberg school property. Picture: Zara Julius

353 Main Road, Sea Point, known as the former Tafelberg school property. Picture: Zara Julius

Published Feb 19, 2024


Cape Town - The call by the provincial government for public engagements on the redevelopment of 353 Main Road, Sea Point, known as the former Tafelberg school property, has been met with objections, with social justice organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi saying it should be earmarked for social housing.

This comes after the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure said it had appointed a service provider to start with site enablement investigations and assessments.

The department said that it was committed to liaising with stakeholders and interested and affected parties within the two-year process.

Ndifuna Ukwazi said: “This Tafelberg site is at the centre of the fight for well-located affordable housing for the poor and working class by Reclaim the City against the Western Cape government and City of Cape Town, which began in 2016.

“While we, Ndifuna Ukwazi, the legal representatives of Reclaim the City, are awaiting the outcome of the legal challenge at the Supreme Court of Appeal, there is nothing in the court case that stops the province from urgently building social housing on the land,” said Robyn Park-Ross, researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi.

“There is a critical need for well-located, affordable housing in Sea Point and other areas that were demarcated for white people only, and to demonstrate a political will to end and reverse spatial apartheid and injustice.

“We hope this is not another delay tactic, nor wasteful expenditure of resources, as the province’s own feasibility study showed in 2016, among eight other studies, that hundreds of units could be built on that site.”

The Tafelberg site has stood vacant for 14 years.

The provincial government owned the school property and sold it to Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School NPC in November 2015 for R135 million.

In 2020, the Western Cape High Court set aside the sale of the property and ordered the province and the City of Cape Town to “address the legacy of apartheid spatial planning in central Cape Town and its surrounds”.

Park-Ross said the Tafelberg site had stood empty for 14 years, and there have been at least nine feasibility studies proving how social housing could be developed on the site, including one from the province itself.

The province said the project was currently in the exploratory investigations stage to identify site and contextual informants, opportunities and constraints, and would thereafter enter into stakeholder engagements where the public will receive notifications of sessions to attend to share information as well as to inform the vision and objectives for the site that the professional team and department will consider.