Cape Town – Activists advocating for affordable housing in the CBD say the City has once again missed an opportunity to address apartheid spatial planning after it dismissed an application for inclusive housing at the old Christiaan Barnard Hospital building.
Ndifuna Ukwazi, an activist organisation which called for inclusive housing to be included in the building, says it will consider approaching the courts for relief following the decision.
The building - bounded by Longmarket, Bree, Church and Loop streets - is formally known as City Park hospital.
Ndifuna Ukwazi co-director Jared Rossouw said the organisation objected to exclusive developments across the city because they were unaffordable for the vast majority of residents and resulted in race and class enclaves that should no longer be tolerated.
“In this instance, the developer wants to renovate the old Christiaan Barnard Hospital and add 175 apartments in the top, including five penthouses.
"We advised the City that less than 3% of all black households living in the City of Cape Town would be able to access even the cheapest apartment.”
Rossouw added that they appealed to the City as its planners and the Municipal Planning Tribunal agreed with them that the development is not compliant with the law but passed it anyway.
“They argued that the City can’t do anything without policy. This is simply not true.
"Mayor Patricia de Lille was advised by senior counsel that the City has both the powers and the obligations to ensure developments are spatially just and must act.
"What they should have done was send it back for the developers to change their plans to send a signal to the sector that the City takes inclusion seriously.”
He said it was clear that the new mayoral committee, under acting mayor Ian Neilson and Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith, did not want to change the City.
“We expected this. But we did not expect them to make such a poor decision in law and dismiss the appeal without thought. This has left us with no other option but to consider approaching the courts for relief.
“We can only imagine that councillors do not want to disrupt the business-as-usual approach which has become entrenched where developers secure extra rights to build bigger and higher earning massive windfalls for their shareholders.
"We are simply asking the City to comply with the law and do everything in its powers to ensure that we build an inclusive city for generations to come, rather than a playground for the rich,” he said.
The City did not respond to questions before deadline.
Ndifuna Ukwazi posted parts of minutes from a meeting with the City where the decision was made on social media. In the document, the City gave a number of reasons for the dismissal of the appeal.
“It was resolved that the appeal be dismissed for the following reasons, as stipulated in the report: the proposal complies with the criteria set out in section 99 of the municipal by-law:
"The proposal complies with the CTSDF (Cape Town Spatial Development Framework), Table Bay District plan, densification policy and urban design policy.
"Intensification of the use of the property is appropriate as various city policies encourage intensification. The proposal will conform to the mixed-use nature and character of the area.”
The document further stated that the building on the property would be retained but would be renovated to “accommodate a new range of uses”.