City of Cape Town lashed for plan to lease New Market Street site for parking, not homes



Published Dec 30, 2020


Cape Town - Despite countless promises to use well-located land for affordable housing, the City has decided to lease a piece of prime land as a parking lot instead of building homes.

It has emerged that the City plans to lease out 8 478m² of strategically located City-owned land to a private company.

Ndifuna Ukwazi researcher Michael Clark said: “It is unacceptable that this prime public land will not be used for affordable housing for the next three years. The City’s failure to urgently prioritise the development of affordable housing brings into question the City’s commitment to spatial transformation and its ability to efficiently deliver its own promises to develop affordable housing in well-located areas.”

Clark said the City had no sense of urgency for the delivering of affordable housing.

In November, the City published a notice announcing its plans to lease out one of these sites – the Newmarket Street site in Cape Town’s Central City – to a private company to be used as a parking lot. The City’s notice provides that the site will be leased out on a “3 x 3 year cycle”, allowing the lease to be renewed every 3 years.

In 2017, the City announced that 11 pieces of City-owned land in Woodstock and Salt River would be used to develop affordable and social housing.

However, since the announcement of these 11 sites more than three and a half years ago, only the Pickwick Transitional Housing development has been completed.

“Where is the City’s urgency to develop affordable housing that could alleviate the acute affordable housing crisis and the growing need for housing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic? Why is the City leasing out public land that it has specifically earmarked for affordable housing? And how many years must poor and working-class Capetonians wait for the City to deliver on its public promises and fulfil its constitutional obligations to combat spatial apartheid?” asked Clark.

An objection lodged by Ndifuna Ukwazi states: “The proposed lease is unacceptable, especially in the context of a profound housing segregation crisis faced by the City and the opportunity the parcel of land offers the City to address spatial inequality. The provision of the minimum level of a basic service, namely the provision of social or affordable housing in a context of dire housing need and acute housing affordability crisis.”

Development Action Group executive director Aditya Kumar said: “It is disappointing that a site earmarked previously for social housing has been leased. Newmarket Street is strategically located for social housing and would have been ideal for servicing the poor and working class in the inner city. A public announcement and transparent plan for the various sites for inner city affordable housing is much needed, and cannot be put off any longer.”

Mayco member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, said: “The City is currently driving more than 2 000 affordable housing opportunities already in the construction phase in and near urban centres across the metro, including in the central Cape Town area.

“The New Market Street site is indeed in the project pipeline. The rezoning and land release processes are under way, subject to all due process and legislative requirements,” said Booi.

Cape Argus

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