Cape Town - The City has been asked to follow the lead of Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille and put a moratorium on the sale of land and buildings owned by them until a proper inner-city social housing plan is devised and there is clarity on expropriation without compensation.
De Lille put a stop to the sale of land owned by her department in order to give effect to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to use public land for the public good.
Project officer at the Development Action Group (DAG), Conrad Meyer, agreed with the moratorium. “There is a critical shortage of housing in the inner city and we are well aware that there are some officials within the city that agree with putting a moratorium on land and some that are against it.
“There is a lot of pressure on the city to think of pro-poor solutions, and I think the current political climate won’t allow them.”
Meyer said that DAG was in favour of the proposal of a moratorium on city-owned land. “There is a huge need for land to be released for social housing and to integrate our communities.
“But developers, I know for sure, will be against a moratorium because something like this could affect the developers’ business because it will bring down the supply of land,” he said.
NPO Ndifuna Ukwazi said the city should be using the land it owns for redistribution and to provide affordable housing in well-located areas. “Instead, the city uses this land in an inefficient, exclusive and unsustainable manner by selling our best land off to private developers, as well as continuing to lease well-located public land to private companies and associations for next to nothing.
“The city continues to renew these leases year after year rather than to leverage this land as a tool that would truly disrupt the spatial inequality that is constantly being reinforced,” it said.
Recently, the social housing pressure group did a feasibility study on prime land leased to various entities within the CBD that they say can be used for affordable housing.
The report, titled City Leases, cites Cape Town’s failure to redistribute land. It focuses on one particular problem: leased land owned by the city that they said should be prioritised for redistribution, “but instead is used in an inefficient, exclusive and unsustainable manner”.
The report contains proposals for five areas: Rondebosch Golf Club, Buitengracht corridor, Harrington Square, Green Point Bowling Green and Fish Hoek Bowling Green. It also identifies 24 golf courses, of which 10 are located on public land.
“Without a coherent and progressive legislative framework for land administration that prioritises the social value of public land and the potential for this land to build a more just and equal city, the possibility of developing housing on our best public land is hindered by many barriers.
“These include collusion, a lack of imagination and political will and budget cuts,” it said.
Good party secretary Brett Herron blamed the city’s leadership.
“They can put a moratorium on the land they own; the question is, do they want to? I think the city’s leadership is afraid of looking into spatial integration. For example, the Green Point Bowling Club was supposed to be used for housing, (but) there has been no movement at all.”
Last year, the city reportedly agreed to develop affordable housing on the site of the former Green Point bowling greens, which had been vacant since a fire in 2016. De Lille said: “When I was mayor, we identified 12 well-located sites to build the affordable housing. Unfortunately, I can’t force them to institute a moratorium; they must decide that for themselves”
City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said that on a continuous basis it considered and identified immovable property assets which were no longer required for municipal purposes.