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Affordable housing activists launch fresh battle with Zille's government

25 July 2017 - 18:06 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. File photo.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

The Western Cape government and affordable housing activists are heading for a new fight‚ this time over the Somerset Hospital precinct between Cape Town Stadium and the V&A Waterfront.

Reclaim the City and its sister organisation‚ Ndifuna Ukwazi‚ have slammed Premier Helen Zille’s government for its plan to rezone the precinct‚ saying it entails privatisation of strategic public land.

“This represents a business-as-usual approach that does not adequately leverage a considerable public asset to reverse spatial apartheid‚” says the organisations’ objection to the provincial government’s rezoning application.

Ndifuna Ukwazi co-director Jared Rossouw said: “According to the application‚ the precinct is considered to be the most valuable property that the province owns.

“The (public works department) is proposing to close the Somerset Hospital and allow for 270,000m² of floor space to be built‚ including shops‚ offices‚ hotels and over 1 000 exclusive apartments.”

Only 300 affordable units were planned‚ taking up 4% of the space‚ he said.

The activists have been at loggerheads with the provincial government over the future of the Tafelberg School site in Sea Point‚ and after a court case the provincial government said it would use the Helen Bowden site in the Somerset Hospital precinct for affordable housing.

Zille’s spokesman‚ Michael Mpofu‚ said it was “nonsense” that the Western Cape government was not following through on its commitment.

“The minimum of 300 affordable housing opportunities included in the (rezoning) application refers to the Helen Bowden (nurses’ home) site only and not the whole precinct‚ which gives an entirely different perspective to the matter‚” he said.

The number of affordable housing units in thew Somerset Hospital precinct would be finalised when the “viability is calculated and we receive proposals for developers to proceed with the redevelopment of the site”.

- TimesLIVE