Community waiting for seven years for City sites to be turned into social housing

James Street site was to be developed into transitional housing. Photo: Supplied

James Street site was to be developed into transitional housing. Photo: Supplied

Published Jan 18, 2024


Seven years ago the then mayor of Cape Town committed to turning sites near the city centre into homes for low-income households, in such areas as Woodstock and Salt River. However, to date residents say they have yet to see those homes.

Some sites that were identified by the City, including Pine Road, Douglas Square, James Street, and Foundry Road, are part of the 13 sites that have been waiting to be revamped. According to residents in the area, these sites are now hotspots of criminal activity.

“All these areas are hives of criminality as the community waits, seemingly endlessly, to find out when they will be cleared and turned into long-promised social housing,” U Watch Woodstock secretary Rob Marshall said.

The City said it had been ramping up its efforts to deliver more housing opportunities in well-located areas across the metro.

In 2023, the City made significant progress and released land for more than 2 200 social housing units across seven land parcels, mostly in Cape Town’s inner city.

The City said: “This includes the approval of our largest ever inner city project in November 2023, with the final land release for the 1800unit Pickwick development in Salt River. The development is set to include 840 social housing units, up from the forecasted 600 social housing units, largely thanks to the city's recently published ‘land release discount’ guidelines, which help to maximise social housing yield on every parcel of land the city releases.”

The City estimates that 100 000 social housing opportunities are possible at sites such as Wingfield, Youngsfield, Ysterplaat, and the Parliamentary Village.

“The release of these national mega-properties for housing would make a huge difference given the sheer scale of the well-located military land compared to the very limited land with housing potential owned by the City and the Western Cape Government close to the urban centres.”

In 2023, as part of the Mayoral Priority Programme for affordable housing land release, several sites received critical City Council land release approvals, including Newmarket Street (Cape Town): 200 social housing units; Salt River Market (Salt River): 215 social housing units; Pickwick (Salt River): 840 social housing units; Fruit and Veg (CBD): 180 social housing units; and Earl Street (Woodstock): 160 social housing units.

“Overall, the City has 6 500 social housing units in the planning pipeline across 50 land parcels city-wide. Importantly, the City has made available 32 666 m2 for social housing in the past five years,” the City said.

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