Cape Town - Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza has given the City a stern warning not to use District Six land to gentrify the area. Didiza penned a letter to mayor Dan Plato after he had requested permission to use a 2012 redevelopment plan for the area.
In the letter, which the Cape Argus has seen, Didiza said: “In addition to the City’s ‘Principles for Planning’ listed in your letter, the primary principle outlined in the District Six Framework should remain constant for future planning and redevelopment in District Six. The site should neither be speculated upon nor encouraged to be gentrified as may ordinarily be the case had restitution not formed the basis of its redevelopment imperative.”
She said an integrated approach had been undertaken that included a range of social, environmental and economic concerns relevant to District Six and the Cape Town CBD.
“The approach should be strongly informed by history and memory of the site as the subject of forced removals more than 40 years ago.”
In Plato’s original letter he wanted consent from Didiza to pursue this undertaking and use the draft framework that was developed in 2012 as the basis for an updated and revised development framework.
“We believe that our planning principles are addressed in this document, and the context has not changed over time. The benefits and the principles referred to include: the development is focused and aligned to the densification and intensification of development on well-located land that is close to job opportunities and transport systems; it provides mixed densities and typologies for housing units promoting spatial integration; provides for the development of public spaces to ensure integrated communities, including consideration of climate change and resilience principles; created mixed-use opportunities that will also contribute to mixed-use areas and job creation,” the letter read.
Husain Khatib, the deputy director of Special Projects in the Department of Land Reform, said: “We were asked by mayor Plato in a letter to request permission for the City to use the 2012 District Six development framework. It is a plan that was developed by the department and it was undertaken by consultants hired by the department . The minister granted consent subject to conditions, and one of the main conditions is that the site should not be speculated upon or encouraged for gentrification.”
A process was under way with residents and the City to develop a Local Spatial Development Framework (LSDF) plan for the area.
The purpose of this plan was, among others, to formulate a vision and related policy guidelines and intervention projects.
Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt, said: “I have said before that the redevelopment of District Six is one of the most important redress projects we will see in Cape Town in coming years.”
Didiza’s condition comes just a few days after the District Six Beneficiary Trust raised concerns about gentrification in the area.
The trust’s interim chairperson, Nadeem Hendricks, said: “We completely agree with the minister and we are not going to sit back and watch the land be gentrified.”
When approached for comment, Plato said he had not seen Didiza’s letter.