The plan is to develop over 300 affordable housing units on the Helen Bowden Nurses Home portion of the Somerset precinct, says Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. File picture: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on Tuesday said she "welcomed" the green light for affordable housing close to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Her comments follow the rezoning approval received by the provincial government to develop affordable housing on one of South Africa’s most valuable state-owned properties – the Somerset Precinct in the CBD.

"The City of Cape Town’s Planning Tribunal approved the province’s application today," said Zille in a statement.

“The plan is to develop over 300 affordable housing units on the Helen Bowden Nurses Home portion of the precinct. This is just the start. 

"We are committed to maximising affordable housing on the remainder of the precinct, which has been our position from day one. This rezoning approval enables us to do that,” said the premier.

Zille said she also "welcomed" the fact that the tribunal has recommended a condition that the province must consider increasing the number of residential units as well as the number of social housing opportunities that can be accommodated within the overall residential components of each phase.

She said the provincial government pioneered the "Better Living Model", which enables affordable housing to be built at scale by means of cross-subsidization. 

Zille said: "The province intends to apply this model at the Somerset precinct."

The rezoning approval enables the Somerset Precinct to take its place among the province’s flagship affordable housing projects, including the Conradie hospital site in an inner city feeder suburb. 

She said the Belhar CBD development was also proceeding well into its second phase.

“We remain concerned about the illegal occupation of Helen Bowden Nurses’ Home. This remains a real threat to our ability to proceed with affordable housing,” said Zille.

The premier added that reports of rampant criminality at the site were very concerning. This is alleged to be occurring due to fights over dominance of access amongst factions in the illegal occupants.

Marcellino Martin, the premier's spokesperson, said she has written to the provincial police commissioner, Khombinkosi Jula, requesting that the allegations are investigated urgently.

“It is hoped that they will now ensure that the illegal occupation comes to a swift end, and will do what they can to prevent further acts of violence being perpetrated in the name of activism at this site,” said Zille.

African News Agency/ANA