Landmark housing ruling

Green Point.

In a landmark ruling, the Municipal Planning Tribunal has imposed an affordable housing requirement on a new development on the Atlantic Seaboard.

The ruling on the new development in Green Point, a first of its kind on the Atlantic Seaboard, was made at a tribunal meeting last month.

Dave Daniels, chairperson of the Municipal Planning Tribunal, confirmed the decision, saying the tribunal had “unanimously resolved that in amending the site development plan, the applicant should endeavour to incorporate affordable housing opportunities on at least 20% of the additional bulk rights that have been granted.”

Mr Daniels said it was important to reverse apartheid’s spatial legacy. “Considering the forced removal of people from well-located areas to dormitory informal settlements on the periphery of the city, any attempt to reverse this legacy of apartheid should be welcomed,” he said.

However, he added, it was not the tribunal’s mandate to implement policy but that of the City Council.

“For this reason at the two most recent meetings of the tribunal, a specific request has been made to council to formulate a clear policy on affordable housing. The tribunal will then evaluate planning applications within the framework of such a policy,” said Mr Daniels.

The ruling by the tribunal has been hailed as an important step by advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi. The group has been calling for affordable housing in the inner city areas, over the last few years.

Reacting to the ruling, the organisation said: “We congratulate the tribunal members for making bold decisions to advance their mandate and meet the city’s housing challenges. However, the ruling on Erf 680 is very vague, and we question whether it is enforceable. It’s unclear who would benefit as the affordable housing is not defined.”

They said they had lodged an appeal to request clarity and a variation of the condition.

They also said that 20% of affordable housing from the additional bulk rights should be provided in perpetuity to families earning between R3500 and R15000 a month.

“Considering the scale and turn-around time of development in the private sector, this could result in thousands of new units being built over the coming years. This is a turning point for private development in Cape Town. The housing crisis is too big for government to solve alone and private developers must now play their part,” Ndifuna Ukwazi said.

They added that they would continue to push for well-located affordable housing in Cape Town.

Jenny McQueen, chairperson of the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, said she felt the decision to have affordable housing in the area was a good one.

“We are not talking about sub-economic housing or bring-
ing slums to the area – we are talking about affordable housing.

“It should be part of every area in Cape Town. In Europe and in the UK all new developments have to include affordable housing in their development. Should they not be able to provide that within their development they should be required to donate 20% of the cost of the development to affordable housing, elsewhere if necessary.”

Isa Jacobson, of the Sea Point For All group, also welcomed the tribunal’s decision.

“It’s essential that private developers come to the party in this way and the model should be supported and encouraged. I think it’s a genuine breakthrough.

“However,thereisn’t enough clarity on what is truly affordable,” she added.

“Once again there’s a sense of vagueness. We need regulation but we also need it to be crystal clear and for it to last.

“We cannot allow for a situation where those who are living in these homes face eviction.”

Ms Jacobson, who also serves on the Ward 54 committee as a resident, said this signalled a shift but it was important to close any loopholes. “We need affordable housing for households earning under R1000 but we need to make sure that no more than a third of a household’s income is spent on rent. This must be legislated.”