Tafelberg development site hearings set to close in March

Urban designer Azraa Rawoot’s impression of the proposed mixed-use and social housing development on the Tafelberg site. l FILE

Urban designer Azraa Rawoot’s impression of the proposed mixed-use and social housing development on the Tafelberg site. l FILE

Published Feb 25, 2024


Cape Town – The fate of site known as Tafelberg in Sea Point, which was earmarked for a school and social housing, will soon be known, as the public participation hearings close next month.

The Tafelberg property that the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School (PJJDS) bought from the City of Cape Town for R135 million in 2015 was set aside.

The site has been the subject of a protracted court case between the City, the provincial government's Human Settlements and housing activists.

The Western Cape High Court set aside the sale of the land and ordered the City to address its plans for the land four years ago.

An appeal was sought in the Cape High Court and later the Supreme Court of Appeal was approached which reserved judgment earlier last year.

Housing activists slammed local government for not earmarking the site for social housing.

In a public participation process, it was argued whether the land should be sold.

Pressure group, Reclaim the City, submitted hundreds of written responses. including a petition with thousands of signatures objecting to the sale.

The Department Of Infrastructure (DOI) told Weekend Argus the site had a lot of potential as it was well located on a Bus-Rapid-Transit (BRT) and other forms of public transit routes (Main Road and High Level Road), which makes it accessible to the CBD and surrounding areas, including the main freeways out of the city.

It added the vision was to see spatial transformation, re-activation of school facility as an urban public school, respecting, incorporating and appropriately responding to heritage informants and affordable housing element within a mixed-use setting.

Jandre Bakker, of DOI, said there had been enough communication via l newspapers for the public participation process.“All interested and affected parties (IAPs) are equal,” he said.

“Ndifuna Ukwazi and Reclaim the City must register to be recognised as an IAP, like all other IAPs.

“The DOI will engage all registered IAPs and not only those they have had dealings with before. The reference to a school being part of the project speaks directly to the approved 2023 City of Cape Town, Table Bay District Spatial Development Framework.”

Bakker said many investigations were under way to make provision for limited internal refurbishment for a school and related facilities.

“The portion being explored as ‘school' represents only a portion of the property. With regards to the perceived lack of urgency, it should be noted that some of the studies, reports, and policy frameworks are outdated.”

But Yusrah Bardien, communications officer at Ndifuna Ukwazi, said their objective remained the same, calling for affordable housing.

“This Tafelberg site is at the centre of the fight for well-located affordable housing for the poor and working class, by Reclaim the City against the Western Cape government and City of Cape Town, which began in 2016,” she said.

“While we, Ndifuna Ukwazi, the legal representatives of Reclaim the City are awaiting outcome of the legal challenge at the SCA, there is nothing in the court case that stops the province from urgently building social housing on the land.

“Could it be that after this indefensible use of taxpayers monies. The Province still hasn't learnt its lesson,” Bardien added.

The Premier office did not respond to queries.