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Radical new housing deal proposed to break apartheid barriers

City of Cape Town could use its golf courses and bowling greens for low-cost housing, says report.
A new report is proposing a 'radical new deal' for housing on 24 areas of city-owned land, including golf courses, bowling greens, country clubs, and parking lots. Picture: Shutterstock

While over half a million Capetonians live in informal settlements, the Rondebosch Golf Club pays the City of Cape Town only R1 000 a month for the use of 450 000 square metres of well-situated land.

With a full membership costing R15 750 a year, and fees of about R150 to play a round in off-peak times, the golf course is inaccessible to the vast majority of residents, including those who live around it.

The golf club’s lease with the city is contained in a new report on city-owned land by civil society organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, which also states that some of the best land in the city “is being used as a dog play park” for the @Frits Pet Hotel and Daycare Centre, described as the largest of its kind in the world.

The report, City Leases: Cape Town’s Failure to Redistribute Land, proposes a “radical new deal” for housing on 24 areas of city-owned land, including golf courses, bowling greens, country clubs, and parking lots. These range across the breadth of the city, from Camps Bay to Strand to Fish Hoek.

Detailed proposals are provided for five of the areas:

Rondebosch Golf Club
Buitengracht corridor
Harrington Square (parking lot)
Green Point Bowling Green
Fish Hoek Bowling Green.

The Rondebosch golf course is the largest area. Two-thirds of the golf course is above the 100-year floodline, and Ndifuna Ukwazi calculates the land could offer 183 360 square metres of built space for a mainly residential development that includes communal space, offices, shops, schools, and social amenities.

Depending on the mix of social and market-related housing, about 2 500 residential units could be built there, says the report. These would include single stands and mid- to high-density apartment blocks as a mixture of market-related, social and GAP homes (GAP housing is subsidised by the state for people earning R3 500 to R15 000 per month), set in green space along the Black River.

Three scenarios

The authors – Nick Budlender, Julian Sendin and Jared Rossouw – calculated scenarios for Rondebosch golf course in which residential units are built according to a 40% market-related and 60% social housing split (including 20% for GAP housing); a 50-50 split between market and social housing; and a 60-40 split.

The square meterage of individual units in the calculations ranges from 50m² for a market bachelor flat and 30m² bachelor for social housing, while a two-bedroom flat built for the market would be 70m² and one built for social housing would be 45m², which is the average size of an RDP house.

There could also be 116 free-standing homes on 400m² each, and 454 two-bedroom GAP houses of 55m², all set within public and semi-private green space with a promenade along the Black River providing direct pedestrian access to Mowbray.

The 30 separate blocks could each be owned through sectional title schemes and, ideally, would each contain a mix of social and market housing rather than economic differences being divided into separate blocks.

Similar modelling is done for the Harrington Square parking lot, the seven parcels of land which are mostly used as parking lots on lower Buitengracht Street, and for the Green Point Bowling Green, which the report states deputy mayor Ian Neilson has publicly committed for social housing.

For Fish Hoek, which has a density of 884 people per km² while nearby Masiphumelele bursts with a density of more than 40 000 people per km² (2011 data), the proposal is for 171 units built as three-storey walk-ups all dedicated to social housing.

Produced for GroundUp by West Cape News.

© 2019 GroundUp

This article was originally published on GroundUp here


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The next bright idea will be to move squatters into the spare room of your house. Even better would be compelling people to have at least one person per 10m2 living in their house. This would provide accommodation for at least 10 people in an average suburban house. It would soon solve the housing problem.

A noble but unworkable solution. Within 1 day your house will be minus, TV and any electronic eqipment; but don’t forget to check your cutlery and crockery. And who will keep your place neat, clean and tidy? This is a generalisation of course, but let the numbers tell the truth.

I was trying to be sarcastic.

Livingstone, so the story said, experimented Africa in his purest form. With no apartheid, but kings, and his subjects. Their huts where located out of in sight of his majesty big huts. On this planet normal behavior of people in power. In doubt visit old Europe. Start by buildings, no huts, called palace. To bring people together forcefully is to break the power of informal. So prominent in history with the name of French revolution. Impossible to break in South Africa. Freedom means no bills and power to the strongest.

I love this… Lets just get rid of all the social amenities, that lower stress and contribute to a better quality of life… Lets build some apartments on top of table mountain. Heck the company gardens will also work nicely for a caravan park type of setup.

The solution to spatial inequality, is not to crowd the hubs, but to improve public transport and provide fast, quality, reliable services at a low cost. Then where you live is irrelevant to the “job” opportunities… Too much thought work for the radical left, socialist thought leaders though…. Probably all involved in some way and suckling off the teet of the taxi industry, which blocks any moves to improve public transport.

It’s just a lot easier taking something that is already there, not dissimilar to renaming roads and towns, than actually having to plan and construct something from scratch.

I disagree; where you live in relation to where you work isn’t ONLY solved by improved public transport although that’s an important factor. It’s also critical that land sold by municipalities is properly used for all who live in the particular city. Cape Town for instance only favours big business when it sells municipal land – a stinky attitude as the recent court ruling regarding Bokaap clearly showed!

These are the sort of hare-brained ideas that emerge when you put a bunch of arty types in a room and ask them to think out of the box. It’s all good fun, but don’t even dream of implementing their nonsense.

I disagree, I am an arty type and even I can see it won’t work.

This is one of the least intelligent proposals that I have heard of in a long time.

Let’s be clear: South Africa has a ton of space for developing houses and living spaces. Why not develop the areas where people are already living, or new areas surrounding the CT hub?

The answer is simple: the intention here is to piggy back on the people with money that already live in wealthy areas. Newsflash: if high density, low cost housing is developed next to a “rich” area by hijacking golf courses, that area will simply become yet another poor area. The “rich” will leave the area in droves and you’ll be left with the same mess that you started with. See central JHB for a sneak preview.

It would be a much better idea to develop the areas where the poor already live, and to create something beautiful there, than to break something that is already developed.

A sobering thought – all the money lost in Eskom is enough to build a house for everyone in SA.

The money Zuma stole could provide free education for all.

Always laugh at socialist going on about replacing golf courses for cheap housing, they did the same thing in Venezuela not that long ago. Next will be resorts of hotels and eventually any house that has more than 2 bedrooms etc.

Geniuses at work, beware.

Move them into the gardens of those Constantia houses, squat on the lawn and swim and play tennis every weekend.

First of April approaching?

Lets first start with District six, the military land at Youngsfield, Wingfield, and so on.
Its not the land, or the lack of it, its the failure of this disgusting incompetent ANC to distribute it.

“..Masiphumelele bursts with a density of more than 40 000” How did Masiphumelele get that big?

With this “fantastic” idea they can bus the rest of the residents living in the eastern cape to CT and provide low cost home plus Zim, Moz, Angola all for free plus free medical plus child grants for everyone managed by sassa.
Fantastic, what a view for the future, whilst at it cut the mountain down & build a 6 lane bride to robbin island for low cost home and taxis.

Great idea this, lets substantially increase population density in central areas that have no more space to increase transport infrastructure. Maybe they think flying cars will be released soon, so traffic won’t be an issue anymore.

You first push up the population density, then you wonder why no one has water and the sewage does not work……..

Pity the semigrant pillocks who did a Shirley Valentine and decided to live in their “idyllic” holiday town…..only to be stuck with a 30% pay-cut, an overpriced matchbox sized home (devaluing by the minute), 4 hours in daily traffic, living out of a bucket, a soon-to-be non-DA-led province, and now having their golfing greens turned into squatter camps.

I live in CT. You are 100% correct rfjock. The WC provides absolutely zero protection from the death throes of a once great country. At best a 2-3 year delay. Exit now. Everything. Let them have it all, frankly they deserve whats coming

I’m glad someone is at least looking at the problem from a different angle. If you want to improve the quality of life for people then lowering the people density is a key factor. The challenge is that the masses cannot be accommodated in existing suburbs in this way, even if it’s a mix of 10% market vs 90% social. Only a fraction of the population who need better housing will be helped in this way. What local and national government should do is extend the low density development to the overcrowded areas. In this way tremendous assets will be created for poor/working class people. At same one is improving the quality of life, creating much shorter commutes AND create a viable financial model for municipalities.

How about East Europe style mass housing complexes? What about all the other spaces that makes Cape Town so nice? Like Signal hill, Table mountain, Kirstenbosch, etc.? Why not change one direction each of the N1 and N2 into low cost residential space? What about every property with a garage – how about converting it into affordable rent units?

Can’t defend a lease of R 1000 whilst members pay over R 15 000 per year! Clearly abuse assets to feed a few greedy golf players! Taxpayers are being defrauded and assume there are many similar examples in CT! There are a lot of people believing that others must pay for their comfort

You need to calculate first, how much goes to the maintainace of the place ,staff cost and other and what is left as a profit,

Listening to all these debates online, there’s a common theme. The boundaries belong to white people. Colonials. Apartheid. Before, Africa was just one big country, not just a continent, tribes just wandered.

This makes the whole distribution thing really easy.

Redistribute land to the landless in (and his is where the debate gets clever), in Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, The Congo, Angola, Sudan, Chad, Western Sahara, CAR, Mauritania, Libya, … The continents got endless empty space, endless opportunities. Problem solved.

No thanks necessary, but always much appreciated.

New moderator? All my recent comments have been hoofed for providing decent, constructive input.

Cape Town, and possibly other cities too, still smack of apartheid spatial planning. In this regard DA, possibly Zille specifically, governance has failed.

Dear Louise, pray tell how you change something as permanent as spacial planning (regardless of whether it is apartheid or just normal metropolitan planning) into your utopian view without lots of time, lots of money and lots of upheaval? You can’t just pluck Constantia out and replace it with Khayelitsha. You can’t just turn all open spaces into housing projects (it will be the most dismal city in the world when that happens). You can’t just ignore the principles of investment(even if it suits you political viewpoint), because capital will not flow to a project that won’t make money. Lastly, even though our problem in SA starts with politicians you should be mindful of pointing your accusing finger at Helen and the DA. I can assure you they have fared way better than the alliance could manage with the rest of SA (unless you count the alliance’s success at stealing the money).

Sectional Title? Managed by the residents who pays levies and stuff like that? Don’t make me laugh.

In a nutshell this proposal captures why there is this huge rift developing between left and right. Things are being said and proposed more for its symbolic value and for its ability to infuriate the other side.

The proposers of this knew full well that proposing to use golfcourses and bowling lawns is a sure fire way to enrage people on the other side. Pity is that some sensible thoughts will be lost in the outbursts.

South African cities need to become more compact. It makes the provision of services much easier and it is much cheaper to house 200 families in an apartment block than in 200 free standing homes.

Public transport only works well in densely populated cities, where people are able to walk to and from stations. Anybody that has visited an European city will confirm this.

Even Cape Towns water usage will improve if you do not have to pipe water for kilometres in leaky pipes to get water to all the far flung areas.

No need to use golf courses, they are too far out of the CBD in any case.

It is always easy just to take and not think of the aftermath. The only way forward is to remove the apartheid chip off the shoulder and take resposibility. As long as that is an issue SA will not unite. Our industries and government is plagued with corruption. Time to bring these people to task and let everyone pay back the stolen monies. Then we can address our housing problem. For the GAP housing who will pay their utilities or will this be yet free again like we heard is the case of Soweto. Instead of looking at the problem and solving it they take easy way out. Is this really the intension or just some more campaigning by government. Get strickter policies, so that our country does not get over run by immigrants and so called asylumseekers. Fix the Eastern Cape then they two dont have to flock to Cape Town, with just these two thing we can manage population density much easier and look after the people in our province.

Brilliant idea. You won’t have to plant grass the fairways are already there. Water is also there just tap into the irrigation system, and if you are near a water hazard you can go boating. The trees are big, lots of braai wood. No garden service needed the green keeper will do that for you, all you add are flowers and bingo we have our very own Augusta!!

The next step would be to host the SA open there, show case to the world on how to utilize space. The kids can run out and steal the balls as the drives land on the fairways.

A little early for an April fools joke?

I think this is a good idea worth pursuing.

Transport would need to be part of the plan.

Golf courses generate very little benefit for the majority of the population in Cape Town, consume lots of water, and make no money! A waste of space if you ask me.

Why not build a mixed-use community that can benefit from the good location?

Fairness and redistribution has to start where the greatest amount of legacy-funded property is found, viz city bowl and surrounds and the Atlantic Seaboard; not worthless farms and outlying areas, but places where properties have real value. There are many seldom-used open spaces and parks in places such as Constantia, Tamboerskloof, Vredehoek, and in the inner-city. In order to kick-off the “melting pot”, these open areas and parks should be developed with low-cost and cluster housing. In this way, the values of the most expensive properties will come down naturally, slowly leading to better property distribution and eradication of white privilege from generations past (which, let’s face it, is why these properties belong to the people they do). This way the privileged feel a little pain, but no-one is harmed, and everyone can at least play golf.

And I may be able to afford a house there too…….

End of comments.





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