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Soaring property prices in Cape Town push away the poor

Domestic workers in Sea Point, marched from the Sea Point Pool to Tafelberg Remedial School to demand affordable mixed-income housing. TRACEY ADAMS African News Agency (ANA)

Domestic workers in Sea Point, marched from the Sea Point Pool to Tafelberg Remedial School to demand affordable mixed-income housing. TRACEY ADAMS African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 7, 2022

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Cape Town - The property market in Cape Town is a runaway train that is speeding on the colonial spatial rails towards ruin.

This is according to housing experts as prices of new developments in the CBD continue to soar.

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Prices for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom property start from R3 million at the Habour Arch development situated close to the Foreshore.

The price pushes away the majority of people who dream of living in the CBD.

Cape Town developers have been accused of favouring foreign-based buyers rather than locals.

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“The Cape Town property market is being distorted by local and foreign speculators who buy a property not to live in but for speculation,” said analyst Lukhanyo Vangqa.

“Second-time buyers have outstripped first-time buyers, a clear indication that the overwhelming majority of Cape Town buyers are not home-makers.”

He said not enough is being done to regulate developers so that they can consider affordable housing when building.

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He said the municipality seems to have handed over the entire human settlements social function to property speculators.

“The City needs to make it a mandatory requirement for the approval of any development plans that 15% of all units must be set aside for affordable housing.

“This will ensure that the poor and working-class are brought into the city and closer to economic opportunities and Cape Town does not remain a colonial town inhabited only by settlers.”

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Bevil Lucas from Cissie Gool House said the moving of the city from the colonial past to the present day has been premised on exclusion and banishment to the periphery for people of colour by the administrators.

“Under apartheid, it was the Group Areas Act that was used to remove the working class and poor people of colour from the city centre.

“Post-apartheid, the spatial development of the city remains for those privileged gated communities, save for partial redevelopment of the District Six community very little has changed.”

He blamed the lack of commitment by the current city administrator.

Chairperson of the Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF) Deon van Zyl defended the property development industry saying it was like any other industry that attempted to reduce risk on the one hand and to increase income on the other.

“Due to a number of factors, land is expensive in the City Bowl, and by default, developers must attract buyers or renters with higher income if one is to develop at all.

“In turn, one must remember that, across the globe, it has historically been almost impossible for average salary earners to afford to buy, let alone, live in any city’s down-town area in which they work.”

He said, however, a number of Cape Town CBD developers are now following innovative international trends in developing micro-living units to enable salary earners working in town to also live in town – either by rental or ownership.

“In fact, this is crucial to the survival of any urban area; if it is too expensive to live it in, it becomes nothing more than a ghost town after 5pm when all workers leave the CBD to go home.”

Deputy mayor and Cape Town City Council’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said it did not regulate developers.

“The prices of housing/units/developments by developers from the private sector are determined by the demand.

“This is the case in all free-market economies – not only in Cape Town, but across the country.

“Thus, the demand determines the price.”

Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the City was fully committed to enabling greater access to more affordable housing and eradicating apartheid spatial planning in Cape Town’s urban centres, including in the Cape Town CBD area.

“To change the current situation of a lack of affordable housing in the Cape Town CBD and other urban centres, innovation and greater partnerships are required as a local government on its own cannot meet the demand.”

He said the City’s social housing efforts were moving forward with more than 6 500 social housing units in the overall pipeline across 50 land parcels city-wide, including 2 000 social housing units in the central Cape Town area.

“Much work continues to develop the pipeline both from the City and private sector.

“We call on all partners to join our movement for more social housing.”

Weekend Argus

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