More than 500 complaints have been lodged with the Western Cape Rental Tribunal regarding social housing giant Communicare. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency
Cape Town - After much pressure and criticism for shelving the Salt River Market development, the City of Cape Town has buckled and given it the go-ahead.

This means that at the next council meeting, which is expected to take place next month, the item on the agenda will probably be passed.

“We need to get the ball rolling on this project as soon as possible. This is an important project that could benefit the entire community,” mayco member for transport and urban development, Felicity Purchase said on Wednesday.

At a meeting to announce the decision, the ANC’s Bheki Hadebe accused the committee of preventing the public from attending the meeting.

“We are disgusted that in our time of democracy, members of the public are prevented from attending such an important meeting.”

Transport and urban development portfolio committee chairperson Anthony Moses said the reason for the delay in approving the plans was because the committee wanted clarity on certain questions.

“We as a committee wanted to ensure due diligence is taking place and to ensure our concerns raised in the portfolio meeting are covered.”

In the end, Moses asked the councillors whether they accepted the recommendations. They all did.

The development, which would be seen as groundbreaking because it included social housing, was sent back by the council.

Initially, Communicare proposed to buy the 1.7hectares of land, valued at R144million, for R1.8m to build a R715m high-rise building.

The recommendations for the development of social housing in Salt River were sent back to the portfolio committee to investigate.

This unleashed the ire of advocacy groups who accused the city of blocking the project .

Communicare briefed the committee on how it planned to develop the land. General manager Thabo Moshologu said the development would unlock huge economic opportunities for the residents and would be groundbreaking for social housing institutes.

Councillors used the opportunity to dispute claims that the city had tried to block social housing projects.

Councillor Angus McKenzie said: “We strongly deny claims that we have blocked these social housing projects. This city is for social housing and we fully support these projects.”

Researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi Jared Rossouw said: “The land at Salt River Market has become ground zero for spatial transformation of our city. We cannot redress the past and advance spatial justice if we cannot bring poor and working-class people closer to good jobs and services. Likewise, we cannot stop the displacement of people affected by sky-rocketing house and rental prices if we cannot build affordable housing on public land in well-located areas of the city.”


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Cape Argus