Cape housing activists triumph after City agrees to implement inclusionary policy
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Cape Town - Housing activists have managed to arm strong the City to successfullysee an inclusionary housing policy in Cape Town.
They have also managed to reach a settlement with the City over the Vogue development on the Foreshore. Housing law advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi wanted to have the development approval set aside or reviewed after they submitted court papers in September last year.
However, the R1.4 billion project has been cancelled after the developer cited financial constraints partly because of Covid-19.
Ndifuna Ukwazi attorney Jonty Cogger said: “We have settled with the City. We brought the litigation matter for three reasons: one to test the exclusive development in terms of its compliance with the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act and the Constitution, the second was to get clarity on whether or not the Municipal Planning Tribunal could impose conditions for inclusionary housing in the absence of policy, and the third was to direct the City to develop an inclusionary housing policy.”
Cogger said the City had confirmed it did have the powers to impose inclusionary housing conditions and that it has agreed and confirmed it was currently developing a policy.
“We feel this is a great success and would like to see how things progress. Perhaps the only downside is that the developers and landowners of the Vogue have informed Ndifuna Ukwazi that the development is no longer financially feasible due to the economic climate and Covid-19 shutdown. All in all, settlement with the Vogue matter has achieved important goals towards implementing an inclusionary housing policy in Cape Town,” he said.
The initial application by Ndifuna Ukwazi declared that the City was empowered, under law, to impose conditions requiring the provision of affordable housing when it approved private land use development applications, and directed the City to develop an inclusionary housing policy.
The R1.4bn Vogue building project was poised to create about 9 000 direct and indirect jobs, according to developer FWJK. In September 2017, Ndifuna Ukwazi objected to this development on the grounds that it was unaffordable to about 90% of residents, “most of which are poor and/or working-class residents”.
FWKJ chief executive Dave Jones said he could not respond on the matter.
Inclusionary housing has now been incorporated into the City’s human settlements strategy, which is out for public comment until the end of the month.
Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said: “We are looking at all options to see how we can enable the delivery of housing opportunities to our beneficiaries on a larger scale through greater innovation and private-public partnerships.
“We need national housing reform, innovation and greater partnerships with the private sector… Our draft human settlements strategy proposes a number of interventions.”
But there are fears that the withdrawal of developers will have an impact on the local economy.
Western Cape Property Development Forum chairperson Deon van Zyl said: “Many developments that have gotten off the ground have been stalled by Ndifuna Ukwazi … the processes have not improved and job creation and the economy will suffer. The City has been busy twiddling its thumbs and there is too much uncertainty for developers. And if the uncertainty is high, the risks are higher.”
The City said it would respond today.