Dunoon’s Covid-19 housing plan still on drawing board

Dunoon residents say their roads and other infrastructure are collapsing.

It’s been almost a year since the state proposed a new housing development for Dunoon as a Covid-19 counter-measure, but the project has still to get off the ground.

The Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) has been dealing with several objections to land-use applications that lay the groundwork for the development, but Dunoon residents say they continue to endure miserable living conditions and fear the onset of winter while the process drags on.

Just after lockdown was announced in March last year, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said housing would be built on newly identified sites around the country to ease the impact of Covid-19 in highly populated areas. Dunoon was chosen for one of these projects.

It was first billed as a temporary solution, one that would see thousands of Dunoon residents moved to ease overcrowding. But later, Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said the move would be permanent, and land behind the Racing Park business centre was chosen for the development.

At 3.5 hectares, the site is larger than three rugby fields and will accommodate 1 500 one-bedroom flats, 24-to-30m² in size, in three-to-four-storey blocks.

Ms Sisulu, Mr Simmers and mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi visited the site in mid April last year.

Dunoon residents had hoped the development would be fast tracked because the government had said it was in response to the pandemic.

Last July, the public was given 10 days to comment or object to land-use applications to rezone erven 35148 and 35163 in Winning Way, Milnerton from General Industry Zoning (GI1) to Mixed Use Zoning (MU1) and to consolidate the two erven to 35170.

According to Marcellino Martin, spokesman to Mr Simmers, the MPT approved the two rezoning applications in September and November last year. There were 35 objections to the first and four to the second.

“A comprehensive response was submitted and presented at the MPT which resulted in the approval of both applications. Only one out of the 39 interested and affected parties who submitted objections is now appealing the MPT decisions and the matter is set to be heard on March 9, 2021 [Tuesday],” he said.

But Dunoon residents say the process is taking too long. Neliswa Dinga said she had watched Dunoon deteriorate daily in the six years she had lived there.

“It’s at the point where we can’t even walk on the roads anymore. For cars, there’s no point in even trying to avoid potholes because you are bound to get caught by one and the roads get flooded either by sewage, dirty drain water or just normal rainfall. Since last year, we have heard about this new housing plan, but we don’t even know if that’s still happening.”

Dunoon’s problems would only multiply during the cold, wet months of winter, she said.

Phatiswa Jola said the proposed development would do a lot to ease the community’s plight.

“We have too many people living in this one concentrated area and more people keep coming by the day,” she said. “So this development will go a long way in helping some people get better housing, but it will also help those remaining in Dunoon because at least we might see less dumping, potholes and sewage pipe bursts.”

However, some residents of nearby neighbourhoods fear the development will overburden aging roads, sewers and water pipes in Milnerton and Table View.

According to Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, the site for the proposed housing development already has infrastructure.

“There are existing roads and services, and it was confirmed that the existing engineering infrastructure will service the proposed development. The assessment of the development applications took into consideration all of the applicable factors, as per the Municipal Planning By-law and relevant City policies. The impact on City services and capacity, inclusive of the road network, forms part of any such assessment,” she said.

Mr Martin also said that an infrastructure assessment was done to confirm sufficient capacity.

“New developments may not be connected until such time that the bulk capacity constraints have been resolved. The department (Human Settlements) is in discussions with the City of Cape Town as the authority that is responsible for such infrastructure,” he said.

Tabletalk asked Mr Martin when work on the housing project would start and be completed. He replied: “Once processes are concluded, we’ll be in a better position to respond to this question.”