City of Cape Town takes bold step in Tafelberg battle

Sea Point could be eligible for affordable housing subsidy

By Ashleigh Furlong

The whole of Cape Town is to be declared a “restructuring zone”, meaning that national social housing subsidies can be accessed for any social housing development in the city, including the Tafelberg site in Sea Point.

The City of Cape Town announced this in a statement today.

Referring to uncertainty about current restructuring zones, Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, said: “We are proposing to extend our restructuring zones, subject to the Western Cape Government and the National Minister’s approval, so that no area is excluded in future.”

The statement follows questions by GroundUp over the last few days to the City and the provincial cabinet over the status of Sea Point as a restructuring zone.

The Cabinet last week announced its decision not to build affordable housing on the Tafelberg site, giving as one of the reasons that Sea Point is not included in a restructuring zone and therefore the project would not qualify for a subsidy.

A restructuring zone is an area designated for economic, racial and social integration through social housing. A restructuring zone is intended to bring about spatial restructuring, allowing lower income households access to urban areas with economic opportunities from which they would otherwise be excluded.

An application by the City for restructuring zones in the “CBD and surrounds (Salt River, Woodstock and Observatory)” was approved and gazetted in 2010. The City told GroundUp on Friday that it had interpreted “CBD and surrounds” to include Sea Point. But this was clearly not the interpretation of the provincial cabinet.

In its statement today, Herron said: “There is currently some uncertainty as to whether ‘central business district and surrounds’ includes areas like Sea Point, for example.”

“In an effort to remove any uncertainty, we are proposing to extend our restructuring zones, subject to the Western Cape Government and the National Minister’s approval, so that no area is excluded in future.”

Numerous attempts by GroundUp from last Friday to get answers from provincial spokespeople about whether there had been attempts to get the Sea Point area declared a restructuring zone were unsuccessful.

Michael Mpofu, spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille, told GroundUp today that it would be “inappropriate” to answer questions about the cabinet decision at present in view of the court application on Tafelberg brought by Ndifuna Ukwazi.

Municipalities identify and motivate for an area to be designated a restructuring zone. The province then approves this and submits the proposed zoning to the national minister for human settlement, who then needs to designate the area a restructuring zone. This is then gazetted.

If Sea Point is gazetted as a restructuring zone, the province could apply for a subsidy from national government, and one of its objections to the development of social housing on the site would fall away.

Ndifuna Ukwazi, which is campaigning through the Reclaim the City campaign to have the Tafelberg site used for affordable housing, has said that the restructuring zones could easily be amended by the Mayor and the Western Cape Provincial Minister for Human Settlements.

SOURCE: http://www.groundup.org.za/article/city-cape-town-bold-step/