Last month the City announced it is proposing a number of critical amendments to its by-law as part of its annual review process. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - In an attempt to reverse the scars of apartheid spatial planning the City of Cape Town has proposed amendments to its Municipal Planning By-Law, but housing activists have labelled the new amendments as a tactic by the City to exclude the poor.

Last month the City announced it is proposing a number of critical amendments to its by-law as part of its annual review process.

Attorney at the Ndifuna Ukwazi law centre Johnathan Cogger said: “One way that the current by-law does exclude the poor is the current Land Use Scheme (which is part of the by-law) which is inconsistent with section 24 (d) of SPLUMA (Spatial Planning, Land Use and Management Act), which states that the Land Use Scheme must ‘include provisions to promote the inclusion of affordable housing in residential land development’.

“This mandates the City of Cape Town to ask a private developer to develop a portion of inclusionary housing units in a development. The City of Cape Town's proposed amendments have not included this amendment, which means that it is unlawful.”

He said if the amendments do not include measures that address inclusionary housing, it is vulnerable to a court challenge.

The by-law regulates developments and land use in Cape Town and may have an impact on property rights, as well as on future developments and land uses.

There are a number of key amendments in the by-law that affect emergency housing, the installation of minor free-standing cell masts, third dwellings as an additional use right and short-term letting of flats such as Airbnb.

The amended by-law would also allow the City to establish emergency housing on City-owned land or private land for a period of up to six months. This can only happen if the owner of the land has given written consent.

The by-law also states that the City may extend the provision of emergency housing for a further period of up to six months but must advertise the intention and provide the opportunity for input.

“The City's response to emergencies is slow and frustrating for victims. While the by-law amendment is intended to help large communities who face emergencies, it takes a hands-off approach to individual families or groups under 11 people rendered homeless from fires that occur in private residences. While the amendment to fast track zoning for emergencies is commendable, the by-law offers no long term systemic solution to people who are rendered homeless as a result of an eviction,” Cogger said.

The City's mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt said she agreed with Ndifuna Ukwazi, but that there were plans to adjust this.

“In all honesty, I have to agree with them that this does exclude the poor and it does not speak to a new system, but we do have a plan to adjust this in the next few weeks. In these amendments, we want to focus on rezoning because remember rezoning is the economic driver, and the economic climate is constantly changing,” Nieuwoudt said.


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Cape Argus