7 June 2016
Attn: Premier Helen Zille
Western Cape Provincial Government
Dear Premier Zille,
Re: Review Decision to Sell Tafelberg Site in Sea Point to a Private Buyer with No Conditions
I am writing in regard to the Western Cape Provincial Government’s recent decision to review the sale of the Tafelberg Site in Sea Point to a private buyer with no conditions attached. I fully support the Provincial Government’s review of this decision and urge you to cancel the sale.
The Tafelberg Site is the last publically owned piece of land in Sea Point and one of only a few publically owned pieces of land in the inner city where affordable public housing might be built. This site is thus urgently needed for development as social housing, land that could serve a broader societal purpose. The Site is fantastically located and has the capacity to provide the space and infrastructure for excellent quality, well-located and affordable rental housing for an estimated 340 families. It is these latter qualities which makes distinctive this site and exceptional. It is an opportunity for the Province and the City of Cape Town to show their commitment to locating rental housing in well-located, fantastically serviced contexts such as Sea Point and the inner city area. This location will not only offer families access to housing and to the opportunity to live better lives in our city, it will also send a clear message that our City and Province are committed to addressing the gross and violent inequalities that live on in apartheid-legacies of segregation and division. This is a critical intervention in the Sea Point area, which draws lower and middle-income service level workers from all over the city into its vibrant local economy, yet presently offers few, if any, affordable units. With its increasing rents and rapid upmarket redevelopment, this just and progressive use of public land in this context is crucial.
Successful, well-maintained and viable models of social housing exist elsewhere Cape Town, in other South African cities, and elsewhere across the world. In commiting to the development of the Tafelberg Site for social rental housing, you and the City Cape Town have an opportunity to build on these experiences and to show our commitment and political will to addressing the injustices and inequalities that continue to divide us.
Professor of Urban Studies
University of Cape Town and University of Basel