06 June 2016
Premier Helen Zille
Western Cape Provincial Government
Private Bag X9185
Attention: Premier H. Zille
Re: Sale of Erven 1424 and 1675 [Tafelberg Site], Sea Point.
I wish to record my objection to the sale of the abovementioned land.
Well-located government owned land that is available for [re]development is a scarce resource. And, land for social housing is shunted ever further from where work and recreational opportunities are located based on the argument that appropriately located land is scarce. Considering the sale of Erf 1424, Sea Point would miss the logical argument of prioritising the land to address the urgent spatial inequality experienced daily by the poor over making a quick buck. The best interest in resolving the dispute has to lay in what is in the public good. I argue that the privatization of strategically located public land in the context of pressing need to integrate our city is not in the public’s best interest and is borne out by work undertaken by the Western Cape Provincial Government’s Department of Transport and Public Works themselves.
NASHO and the Caper Town Partnership recorded in its Workshop [30-31 August 2012], that included the Advisor to the Western Cape MEC for transport and Public Works, the Executive Director of the City’s Human Settlements Department and representatives of NGOs, agreed a “vision for the site is to create a living example of a fully integrated community through the development of a mixed use, mixed tenure development that contributes to the restructuring and sustainability of the immediately surrounding area as well as the broader Cape Town inner city”. The vision for the site that was that included the provision of social housing and proved the feasibility of the site to be used for such purposes. [i]
The Urban Design Framework produced by City Think Space for the Western Cape Government, Department of Transport and Public Works conceptualized the site as “a contextually sensitive, high-density mixed-use development.” [ii] The work clearly spells out a desire for a portion of the site to be retained as a public space supported by a mixed-use development, including high density housing.
The vision “to create an open opportunity society for all so that people can live lives they value” as described in the online booklet: Investing in the Western Cape [iii] can never mean creating opportunities for a single sector of society. The same document describes the aim of Western Cape Provincial Government to “generate an annuity type income stream to finance provincial property development and maintenance”. The outright sale of the land does not meet this objective, nor does it meet various other “aims” described therein.
The abovementioned studies point to the viability of the site for mixed-use development, including social housing on the site, the desirability to lease the land rather than sell a state asset, the preservation of the heritage sensitive buildings and public space as well as the opportunity for an integrated neighbourhood. All are based on sound argument developed by the Department of Transport and Public Works themselves.
It must be further noted that the Western Cape Government’s Department of Human Settlement have in an internal letter to the DoTPW dated the 26/03/2013 recorded their objection to the sale of the land because it can be “better utilized to further Government objectives.” [iv]
It is the mandate of the Department of Transport and Public Works to redress the massive imbalances in how our society is structured. Every opportunity must therefore be harnessed to shift this unjust balance. I therefore argue:
1. For a mixed-use development on site with the balance shifted towards social housing with an active edge facing onto Main Road in a manner than provides continuity to the existing character of the street;
2. That the state resource not be sold and should be leased to retain it as a resource for future generations;
3. For the protection of the heritage resource of the existing school buildings and the space between it and the street. That this is retained as a public resource owned and managed by the state;
4. That the portion of land where it directly abuts to Main Road be leased to a commercial developer for profit and potential cross-subsidization towards the maintenance of remaining developments and public space;
5. That the remainder of the site is subdivided and leased to a non-profit social housing company such as Sohco; Communicare or the like to accommodate mixed tenure social housing.
To allay fears that the current period for hearing objections would be used as a means to simply rubberstamp decisions already made, please record my objection and keep me informed throughout the process of addressing this objection.
Director: Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers Pty Ltd
Chairman of the Urban Design Institute of South Africa
Acting Secretary General of South African Black Technical and Allied Career’s Organization
cc. Minister Donald Grant
iii. https://www.westerncape.gov.za/assets/departments/investing-in-the-western-cape-booklet.pdf as issued by the Department of Transport and Public Works in conjunction with the Expression of Interest, Reference EI 001/14, dated 17th March 2014
iv. Letter written to the Manager: Property Planning by Mbulelo Tshangana, Head of Department: Human Settlements.