RTC block province’s land sale bid

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The Tafelberg School Site has officially gone up for sale again and both Reclaim The City and Phylis Jowell Jewish Day School (PJJDS) have called for support. Interested parties are called on to make representations in writing regarding the proposed disposal of the property.

While Reclaim The City are calling for the site to be used for affordable housing, the Phylis Jowell Jewish Day School have spoken on the matter for the first time, saying they see the site as being vital to meet the demands of schooling in the area.

The Western Province Department of Public Works said they will make their decision on whether or not to sell the site to the Phylis Jowell Jewish Day School after the public participation process ,which is open until Thursday June 9.

In a media statement on Thursday May 19, Reclaim The City announced that they objected to the sale of the site.

“After pressure from Reclaim the City, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille agreed to temporarily stop the sale of the Tafelberg site in Sea Point. This victory is a step towards bringing black and coloured working class people back into the city.”

The organisation has called on other residents to object to the sale.

“Two decades after apartheid ended, most of Cape Town’s working class people are still excluded from the areas they need to be for work, education and a dignified and safe environment. Many others are being evicted and forcibly removed from places like Sea Point, the CBD and surrounds. Reclaim the City demands that the state uses public land in the city, such as Tafelberg, to develop affordable housing.”

The Department of Public Works said they still intended to sell the site to PJS for R135 million.

Lance Katz, vice chairman of the Phylis Jowell Jewish Day School, said they are drawing up a petition as part of the public participation process.

“The public comment process is not only for those that are opposed to the sale but also for those that support it. We think it is important that the public understand the many benefits that the sale will bring for a wide variety of stakeholders including residents of Sea Point and the City of Cape Town more broadly.

“We do believe that access to affordable housing in the city is critical in building a successful city that provides opportunities for all of its citizens and which fosters integration and social cohesion. However, we are led to understand that, for a variety of reasons, not least the high land value and also the heritage aspects of the site, the Tafelberg School property is not well suited for affordable housing and that other city-wide solutions are available and would be more optimal. This is ultimately for Province to decide.

“We believe that the sale of the Tafelberg School property to PJJDS is a win-win for all stakeholders including those that want to see value unlocked to fund social delivery in the city.”

Mr Katz said they would be focusing on proactively breathing fresh life into the Tafelberg School property which has been vacant and derelict for a number of years and restoring and revitalising the neglected historic school building for re-use as a non-profit community school. Some of the benefits, according to Mr Katz, included addressing the critical shortage of space for independent and community school facilities.

“Tafelberg is one of the few, if not only, remaining available and appropriately zoned sites for a school in the area.”

Another benefit, according to Mr Katz, would be attracting further investment into the Sea Point area with consequent employment creation and economic growth benefits in the area. He also said it was important in terms of creating educational, cultural and recreational facilities for the benefit of the community and the broader base of Sea Point residents and visitors to the area.

“The public can go online and sign our petition which we will submit to Province as part of the public comment process. Alternatively people can write directly to Province with their comments”, said Mr Katz.