Cape Town – In a victory for social housing activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, the Municipal Planning Tribunal has ordered that social housing be included in a new Sea Point development.
The tribunal on Tuesday approved the land use application of the Berman Brothers Group and investors Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) for their 60m residential building at the intersection of Main and Kloof roads.
Ndifuna Ukwazi initially opposed the application, saying it wanted social housing to be included in the development.
The developer put forward a proposal to retain 20% of the 140 flats as “affordable” housing.
In effect, 28 new flats, each between 35m² and 39m², will be reserved for rental to households whose monthly income is less than R18 000.
The City of Cape Town planner’s initial position was to oppose the application primarily because of the height of the building – the proposed development towers above surrounding buildings in the immediate vicinity.
“At the hearing, we disagreed with this position, arguing that this City requires dense, high-rise and inclusive buildings across well-located areas to provide for affordable housing and to address spatial inequality and inverse densification,” said Ndifuna Ukwazi co-director Jared Rossouw.
The tribunal found in favour of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s submissions and approved the development application. The tribunal added a proviso that the City’s planners should return to the tribunal with wording for a condition that will ensure that the inclusionary housing component can be secured.
The public consultation process started in October last year. In written submissions made to the tribunal, in possession of the Cape Argus, residents cited reasons for their objections, including traffic congestion, the lowering of property values, noise pollution and a negative impact on tourism.
Johnathan Cogger, an attorney at the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, said the City, through its planners, tribunal and the mayor, had been reluctant to proactively impose conditions that would foster access to truly affordable housing in new developments.
“The tribunal’s decision turned on a private sector actor providing a solution. Although significant, this is not a sustainable way to address the more systemic problem of spatial inequality and the need for more low-income housing in exclusive developments across the City,” he said.
Ward councillor Nicola Jowell said: “I am disappointed that the tribunal has approved the application. The application received objections from residents, ratepayers’ associations and the previous ward councillor. The departmental report also stated without ambiguity that the application for departures should be refused.
“The tribunal has overturned the department decision on the matter and we need to urgently be advised as to the rationale for this. I will be petitioning mayoral committee member Marian Nieuwoudt, as well as executive mayor Dan Plato to investigate, and will support an appeal.”
Nieuwoudt said the City had noted the decision, but had no further comment at this stage.