Boost for affordable housing

Rocklands Villas. PICTURE: Tracey Adams

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has accepted a R50 million acquisition deal from the Housing Development Agency (HDA) for its Rocklands Villa property in Sea Point.

The sale clears the way for this property to be used for affordable home development, fulfilling a decades-long appeal from land and housing campaigners.

The Rocklands Villa property was intended to be auctioned off as part of the SABC’s business recovery strategy in May 2021.

The auction was cancelled after the HDA and national Department of Human Settlements applied for an urgent interdict to stop the auction.

SABC group executive of corporate affairs and marketing Gugu Ntuli confirmed to the Cape Argus that the SABC had accepted an offer from the HDA.

“This property will greatly benefit our people with provision of residential area nearer to places where they will have access to work and other amenities,” said HDA administrator, Dr Alex Lesiba Mahapa.

“We will commence with human settlements development and are proceeding with property acquisition for purposes of affordable housing.”

Buhle Booi, head of political organising at land activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, said the sale of the Rocklands Villa to the HDA for affordable housing, “is a victory for Ndifuna Ukwazi and Reclaim the City in our efforts to turn the tide on apartheid geography in Cape Town and create access to housing within the centre of the city for black, Indian and coloured people”.

A statement from Ndifuna Ukwazi says that in the city there is a backlog of over 365 000 households requiring affordable homes, with the average house (in 2019) costing R1 513 254.

The HDA deal was welcomed by political parties.

“In 27 years of democracy not a single affordable housing unit has been built by the Western Cape Province or City of Cape Town in the inner city. Instead, all new affordable housing developments have been built on the outskirts of the City, entrenching the apartheid era spatial plan and it’s Group Areas Act,” said Brett Herron, Secretary General of the Good Party.

“If the Western Cape Government could somehow be persuaded to drop its court appeal and allow the old Tafelberg School site to be used for affordable housing, the two Sea Point properties will provide a unique opportunity for a precinct based design for integrating affordable housing into a well-established neighbourhood,” he said.

The Democratic Alliance’s Emma Louise Powell, the DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements, said in a staement: “The release of this well situated property – which has been derelict for a number of years – will contribute to the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government’s extensive affordable housing delivery pipeline. Whilst it is a pity that it took the two entities so long to reach this amicable resolution – with the agreement having been reached as the property was supposed to have been auctioned – we are glad that National Government has come to the party in assisting the Western Cape’s substantial affordable Housing efforts.”

The Sea Point Fresnaye Bantry Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SFB) said it is on record as agreeing in principle to the provision of affordable housing in the area.

However, it must be, “done in a way that delivers on the promise and the expectation”.

“Currently as we have no details of what the HDA proposes, we are not in a position to comment on the proposed development. We look forward to hearing more about the proposed development,” the SFB stated.

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