The Queens Park Sports Field in Woodstock has been earmarked for potential high density and low density development.
The Queens Park Sports Field in Woodstock has been earmarked for potential high density and low density development.

Woodstock residents say proposed development will force out poor families

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published May 19, 2021

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Cape Town - The Woodstock Residents Association (WRA) has started a petition to oppose plans to develop Victoria Walk (Goulders Green) and Queens Park Sports Field, saying it could further squeeze poor families from the area.

This as the City is advertising for public comment until June 6 the draft Spatial Development Framework (SDF) and Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs) for the eight planning districts across the city.

WRA committee member Ute Kuhlmann said the association had constantly been engaging with the City and private developers to have affordable housing included in private developments, as well as have consultations with the community about affordable housing on public land in Woodstock, but with little success.

She said according to the SDF data, Woodstock had one of the highest number of planning applications for developments in the past number of years.

“The developments have mainly been high density and studio or one-bed apartments, and start at over R1.5 million selling price, so they are neither suitable nor affordable for the families who are being squeezed by gentrification in Woodstock.

“The refrain from City planning, the Municipal Planning Tribunal, and both the former and the incumbent mayor has been that there is no necessity for private developers to create some affordable housing in their developments, because public land in Woodstock will be made available for that purpose. We completely disagree with that narrow approach,” she said.

Kuhlmann said with higher densification, Woodstock will need green open spaces even more desperately.

“There are even fewer green public open spaces below the Main Road, and instead of planning development on green public spaces, the City should expand the availability of these relief spaces throughout Woodstock, not reduce them.

“The City and the province have pushed through their disastrous decision around the high-density development of the Three Rivers Urban Park and shown that they favour development and density over everything else, although most of the jobs created will only be temporary, and when the green public open spaces are built up, they are gone for good and won’t be available to future generations,” she said.

Woodstock Aesthetic Advisory Committee (WAAC) member Andrew Savage said there was minimal green space within the neighbourhood and sports fields used by either residents or schools in the area.

“Every dense suburb requires some kind of green space for people to use. By taking away these outdoor areas, you force people to either drive somewhere, and it’s not ideal. There are far more other areas within the city that need to be developed as opposed to taking the green space within arguably South Africa’s oldest neighbourhood,” he said.

WAAC chairperson Ernest Ford said the Queens Park Football Club was waiting for the City to renew its lease to use the field.

“The club had a 25-year lease to use the sports ground, and that came to an end two years ago, and we have been in the process of renewing it. The City has said R5 000 should be paid to cover the cost of advertising costs for the ground to be used as a sporting facility. While that is going on they say they want it for social housing, and we find that confusing,” he said.

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