Housing plans welcomed

Residents of Phoenix and Joe Slovo say major infrastructure upgrades need to be addressed in the area before the housing development starts.

Phoenix and Joe Slovo leaders have welcomed plans to develop parts of the two areas to create housing.

Ward 4 councillor Wandisile Ngeyi and the City of Cape Town’s programme manager in the human settlement directorate, Duke Gumede, met with eight representatives from the Phoenix Ratepayers’ Association and Joe Slovo Development Forum on Wednesday July 29 at the Milnerton municipal building in Royal Ascot.

The meeting was called by Mr Ngeyi for the community members to get clarity on the mixed use development plans for the vacant stretch of land on Freedom Way, Erf 20969.

There have been land invasion riots in Joe Slovo and surrounds in recent months. A garbage truck, a MyCiTi bus and station, a private citizen’s bakkie and two schools have been torched in the violence. and residents of both Joe Slovo and Phoenix say the authorities promised them six years ago that flats would be built on the site.

Late last year, Mr Ngeyi also said the City had identified another piece of land that could be used for temporary housing in Joe Slovo. The land sits adjacent to Marconi Beam Primary School.

At the time, residents were torn over whether the space should be used for the temporary housing or extra prefab classes for Marconi Beam Primary (“Clash over land,” Tabletalk, November 27, 2019). Mr Ngeyi said this year that the land would be used for the extra classrooms.

In his presentation, Mr Gumede said Joe Slovo was overcrowded and that most vacant pieces of land had already been invaded.

“The area was called Chuku Town back in 1995/96. The land was then acquired by the City from Telkom, who were the previous owners of the land. After that, 1 005 RDP houses were built, and the rest of the people that couldn’t be accommodated in Joe Slovo were taken to Dunoon, which started in 1998. In the Dunoon area, around 3000 houses were built,” he said.

While the land on Freedom Way is 6 600m2, only 4 875m2 of it is developable. The plan is to build three-storey blocks of flats with the ground floor for business space and the first and second floors for some 200 residential units.

“The land we have, we have to optimise it, meaning we must find the best use for it under the current conditions and resources available. That’s why we are talking about mixed-use developments,” Mr Gumede said.

“We want to make sure we have residential, social and economic amenities that we can provide on the limited land we have. We have to densify. Gone are the days of building one plot, one house, one family. We now have to build up. Three storeys is the maximum in the requirements for low-income housing. We are putting houses side by side so that more people can benefit.

“The next step now is to appoint a professional team to commence designs and submit a development application. Once there’s budget approval, we can proceed with implementation.”

Mr Gumede said the City had not yet approved the development plans and there was no budget, but he nevertheless wanted to outline the concept for Joe Slovo and Phoenix residents.

In the meantime, Mr Gumede, said the City had been quoted about R1 million to fence off the site.

Amanda Kemp, of Phoenix Ratepayers, asked what kind of fencing would be used because fences elsewhere had been stolen. She also wanted to know how traders using the area would be affected.

Henry Timm, also of Phoenix Ratepayers, asked whether there would be an upgraded sewerage system and correct fire and safety precautions.

“When the building eventually starts, we would like to see local people and labour be used in the construction. There are local companies and lots of labour within the Phoenix and Joe Slovo area,” he said.

Mr Gumede said the palisade fence would be vandalism and theft proof.

“Our first priority with the fence is to try to prevent any future invasions. But, of course, we would like to accommodate the informal trading in the meantime because fencing it off would deny some people’s livelihood.

“In terms of health, safety, and other requirements for the development, there will be people who check all the regulations to make sure all is above board. We will need to upgrade the sewerage network and other infrastructure and we plan to use local labour in the construction” he said.

Mr Ngeyi said that he wanted to see the plans for the development on the Freedom Way corridor made a reality.

“All the Sub-council 3 councillors are in support of this. We will work with the residents of the two communities to figure out who qualifies and the ratio of residents from each community who get to live in the flats,” he said.