De Zicht in affordable housing battle

The non-profit organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi is demanding the City of Cape Town make room for affordable housing at the De Zicht development.

Social justice activists are putting the squeeze on the City of Cape Town to include affordable housing in an upmarket development near Richwood.

The De Zicht development being built by Balwin Properties on the old Annandale Farm will have one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, ranging in price from R800 0000 to just under R2 million. It includes a clubhouse, more than 1 500 parking bays and 876 flats (“Annandale goes from farms to flats,” Tabletalk, October 11, 2017).

On Tuesday February 13, Ndifuna Ukwazi demanded the Municipal Planing Tribunal add affordable housing to the 9.5 hectare development, but the tribunal turned down the activist group, which now plans to appeal the decision.

“This appeal goes to the mayor who can then support or override the tribunal’s decision or refer it back to the tribunal for further consideration,” said Ndifuna Ukwazi researcher, Julian Sendin.

He said developments such as De Zicht were “exclusive” and “unaffordable” for most Capetonians”.

“For instance the cheapest unit would require a household income of roughly R22 000 per month. This excludes more than 75% of Capetonian households. However, the effects on racial segregation are even more profound. For instance, just 9.55% of black households could afford the cheapest units on offer.

“The law requires each and every spatial-planning decision to advance spatial justice,” said Mr Sendin.

In their presentation to the tribunal, Ndifuna Ukwazi said: “It is difficult to imagine how gated, and defacto a segregated residential development on the urban edge of the City is said to be in line with the City’s transit-orientated development and densification policies.”

Ndifuna Ukwazi criticises the City planner’s report which says the “gated community” promotes “walkability” due to the clubhouse, spa, restaurants and more being in close range of another. But “these facilities will not be open to the general public”, said the organisation.

It said affordable housing was not cheaper market housing but rather houses affordable to those in need.

“Of course there is a high demand for market rate entry level housing but the City, which has ultimate authority over development rights, has a developmental obligation to provide housing to those who need it the most, not to the middle class.”

General manager of Balwin Properties, Armand Botes, said they were aware of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s objection to the De Zicht development.

Tabletalk asked if affordable housing had been considered during the planning phase of the development to which they responded: “What is the definition of affordable? We provide a mid-market priced product,” said Mr Botes.

Pamela Powrie, of the Richwood Ratepayers’ Association (RRRA), said they had only learned of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s objection when they had attended the tribunal.

“We sent in an objection on behalf of residents of Morris Shell Drive. The grounds were a loss of privacy due to the height of the block of flats overlooking their gardens, among other things. Loss of privacy is our main concern,” she said.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said City planners considered spatial justice, as well the other development principles in the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, when assessing land-use applications.

“It is important to note that not all development principles and polices are equally relevant to all land use applications under consideration,” he said.