I have already forwarded the the letter below to yourself to other officials. The letter was published in the Cape Times on Monday 30 May. I wish to submit that and the accompanying note in support of a rethink about current disposal plans for the Tafelberg site in Sea Point.
I am of the view that the Province should go some way to address the issues of the past. In their original proposals to dispose of the land in 2014 they stated that it would be ideal for mix-use including residential and that their objectives were to make the sale of this and three other sites in the City of benefit to all.
To sell the land to one organisation without any conditions lays it open for use at a future date for private development and additional development in the area which will again be out of reach of ordinary people – those that help make our suburb work.
I appreciate that there are many who would wish the site to be used for educational purposes but that can be achieved whilst some of the site is used to address the issues of the past and help go some way to developing more integrated communities across the City.
I was at presentations in 2014 when the Province put the sites out for interest to potential investors. They made it clear then that their initial thinking was for this locale to be used for multi-purpose development (refer back to the brochure to potential investors) and that was commented on in various newspapers at the time – the Atlantic Sun on May 8 2014 is just one example. I also had discussions with representatives from the team providing input to the Province who made it clear that this site – they called it Main Road – could help assist in the regeneration of the area with retail, open space, housing as well as educational purposes which would make it available to so many.
To dispose of the site to one establishment without any conditions opens it up to private development in future years without any restrictions on the developers apart from the City’s own regulations. An opportunity would be lost forever in trying to help address the iniquities of the past – something Madam Premier you, in a former role, were heavily engaged in – and make it even more difficult to prevent this suburb becoming an enclave of exclusivity.
As a former member of the Sea Point Ratepayers EXCO and, for a brief period its Chair, I respectfully ask you to reconsider the decision and instead seek to make one which can meet a variety of needs and help make a site in the heart of Sea Point one that can be used to address some of the social issues of today and make it an example of what tomorrow could be for our City and Country.
See below letter which advances the above argument:
I have noted the recent debate about the use of State-owned land to address some of the social issues we face. The recent being in relation to the sale of a considerable site in the centre of Sea Point – the school site known as Tafelberg or Ellerslie and its associated grounds.
When the Province first announced their plans to sell this, and three other sites in the City, the proposals suggested to potential developers that a mix of use could be forthcoming together with some exciting ideas for this site involving education, retail, commercial and housing.
The site is significant and does have strong links for a number of people living in the area. Many went to school there in the past and would like to see some form of an educational establishment back on the site. The site overall has fallen into disrepair and a decision for its future, which will ensure that aspects of it which are of historical importance are preserved and enhanced, is imperative.
But surely it isn’t a case of either one option or another. I would have thought that it could be used as a means to satisfy a number of needs which the Province should be actively seeking to address. As a community we rely on many people to provide essential services to us and our families. Such as teachers, police, firefighters and domestic workers – to name a few. Are we saying to them we want you to work for us but you can’t live here – it’s too expensive for you so you have to endure hours travelling and the associated costs if you wish to do so?
I’m not unrealistic to realise that we cannot provide all the affordable housing that is required for everyone who is needed to work within the Sea Point community. There is surely, though, an opportunity here to go someway to address that problem. Government, in this case the Province, could set an example here and ensure that some of the land that belongs to the State is used in this way. Not to do so, in my view, is a derogation of duty and ignores an opportunity to help redress some of the iniquities of the past when people who did live here were forcibly removed.
This is not to say other sites outside of the area should not be used as well but wherever there is an opportunity to make a difference then this should be taken. Something Governmental organisations in many parts of the world see as their responsibility.
As residents we accept that we need the services of fellow citizens to work in our community often providing the services that we, and our families, rely on daily. Why are we not wanting to welcome them as fellow residents rather than shunt them back to other parts of the City once they have completed their shifts? If we left everything to the market there would be no social services, no social grants, no state pensions. Sometimes the market has to be massaged to meet social needs and the provision of affordable housing within our community which is properly managed would, I suggest, fit into that category.
I believe we can have a win-win situation at the Tafelberg site. A new educational establishment reviving the established traditions of the site as well as making provision on part of the property to address other community issues; that being the need to house people closer to the areas in which they work and help develop more progressive and integrated societies within our City and across South Africa.