An artist's representation of the Harbour Arch development, planned for the Foreshore. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - The CBD skyline is set to change again with the City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) approval of an exclusive but controversial development called the Harbour Arch on the Foreshore.

As developers of the site, the Amdec Group, celebrated the MPT’s decision on the R14billion mixed-use precinct, social housing advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi put out a stinging statement via their attorney, Jonty Cogger, saying: “This approval will reinforce the city centre as an exclusionary space where wealthy, mainly white people only are accommodated.

“The City urgently needs to adopt an inclusionary housing policy to regulate private developments by securing a portion of affordable housing.

"This is one strategy that is necessary to ensure that developments in Cape Town are more inclusive,” added Cogger.

However, Amdec chief executive James Wilson said: “This is a big day for Cape Town and a big day for the Amdec Group. We have no doubt that this project holds tremendous promise for the Mother City.

"Harbour Arch will create jobs and opportunities, boost investor confidence both locally and abroad, bolster our city's economy and benefit the Western Cape as a whole.”

Harbour Arch is set to be built on a 5.8hectare site, with 198000m² of usable space and six individual towers. The site will also be home to two new hotels, to be operated by Marriott International, long-standing partners of the Amdec Group and the world’s largest hospitality group.

The developers said it would “create a world-class new urban precinct, delivering multiple lifestyle benefits and creating a highly sought-after place to live, work and relax for residents and visitors to Cape Town. It will further entrench its position as one of the world's great cities, regularly voted one of the most desirable places to visit and live.”

“Harbour Arch represents a massive private sector investment into the city, estimated to create at least 13000 construction jobs. Its credentials are further strengthened by the involvement of a reputable and committed developer,” said a statement by the Amdec Group.

Ndifuna Ukwazi, however, said that while job creation “is essential and much needed, temporary construction jobs in the CBD that mean workers have to commute long distances to their homes does not restructure the segregated form of our city.”

In their statement, the group claimed that in response to their objection that this development would be exclusionary, Amdec proposed that they would build 1000 affordable housing units off-site in Ottery as a way of making the Harbour Arch development spatially just.

Coggan said: “While we support affordable housing across the city, building affordable housing 18km away by road, does not justify building an exclusionary development in the city centre.

“This does not help the city to redress apartheid spatial planning.”

They argued that their calls for inclusionary affordable housing would not prevent access to the job opportunities offered by the developers.

Amdec said their investment would mean a R2.4 billion increase in household income for Cape Town, a R90million infrastructure upgrade and perpetual income (taxes and utilities) and wider economic spin-offs for the city.

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus