SANDF members keep watch at the site at Wingfield military base where the Greenmarket Square refugees were relocated. Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
SANDF members keep watch at the site at Wingfield military base where the Greenmarket Square refugees were relocated. Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Could Wingfield military base become an affordable housing site?

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Nov 9, 2020

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Cape Town - Housing could be built at the Wingfield military base if the City has its way, but the SANDF and the Department of Public Works could prevent this from happening.

The site has been partially utilised by the SANDF for more than 20 years.

Spatial planner Lance Boyd said: “The site is well located and has the potential to deliver well-located, affordable housing at a scale where it is needed and close to economic opportunities.

“This represents a massive integration opportunity. If one targets the Wingfield south site, it would be able to accommodate 6 600 residential units.”

Boyd said the City faced many constraints in acquiring the land.

“There are unresolved ownership issues, land claims is a challenge, and the bulk servicing and relocation cost could amount to R1.4 billion," he said.

Boyd was speaking at a recent event organised by the Society of Architects, Planners, Engineers and Surveyors.

In June last year, former mayor Patricia de Lille called for five large areas of government-owned land to be transferred to the City or province so that low-cost housing could be built.

The five sites are the Culemborg railway ground between the N1 and Cape Town CBD; Air Force Base Ysterplaat; Wingfield; the Youngsfield military base; and Denel property between Khayelitsha and Strand.

According to Premier Alan Winde, up to 100 000 housing units could be built at the sites, enough to meet half of the demand for affordable housing recorded on the City's database.

Currently, the Wingfield land is being used as temporary accommodation for refugees.

Asked whether the City was holding discussions with national government over acquiring the land, Boyd said: "It holds significance. It’s a very expensive site to unlock and it requires partnerships with the private sector. Unlocking of these sites is also very difficult and would require careful consideration.”

Darren Olivier, director at African Defence Review, said: “The first problem, of relocation, requires a fairly substantial amount of money to be spent to construct the replacement facilities in Simon's Town or elsewhere, which the SANDF, with its highly constrained budget simply cannot afford.

"Should the government decide to close down Wingfield as a military base, which should only be done as part of a formal review that takes into account the impact on defence capabilities, it should fund that relocation from outside the SANDF budget. If not, key capabilities may be lost.”

Cape Argus

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