There are approximately 2 000 social housing units already in the pipeline for the central Cape Town area. Around 2 500 social housing units are also nearing completion or about to commence construction along the Voortrekker Corridor and near important economic nodes. This figure relates only to social housing projects and excludes other forms of affordable or inclusionary housing driven by the city and private sector.
Selected central Cape Town Social Housing projects at various stages include:
- Projects nearing construction phase include Pine Road (about 240 social housing units) and Dillon Road (+/- 150) in Woodstock; Salt River Market (+/- 200); and Maitland (+/- 200).
- Projects undergoing land use management processes to be made available for social housing include New Market (+/- 300); Pickwick (+/- 400); and Woodstock Hospital precinct (+/-700).
- Woodstock Hospital, one of the City’s largest priority projects in central Cape Town, has favourable conditions for development but has been delayed by orchestrated building hijacking that started in 2017. The City has since sought to unlock the known potential of the site for social housing, while following the correct legal processes/routes.
- Potential projects at early feasibility stage in the inner-city pipeline include Fruit and Veg (150 units) among other opportunities.
- Western Cape Government-driven projects, supported by the city, include the Conradie development in the inner-city feeder suburb of Pinelands, Founders Garden, Foreshore Precinct and Helen Bowden Nurses Home in Green Point (also subject to a building hijacking by Ndifuna Ukwazi). All have significant potential for social housing unit yields.
Expanding opportunity across the city
Besides central Cape Town, the metropolitan area further consists of various important economic nodes, including Century City, Tygervalley, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Phillippi, Atlantis, Somerset West, and Cape Town’s second CBD and major public investment project, Bellville.
The Voortrekker Road Corridor, which links the CBD to Bellville, is being spatially targeted to expand economic opportunity for business activity, jobs, affordable housing, and public transport.
The other primary road corridors that the city is targeting for transit-oriented development are: Main Road in the southern suburbs; the R27, Marine Drive, Koeberg Road and Blaauwberg Road; Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki roads in Khayelitsha; AZ Berman Drive in Mitchells Plain; and Symphony Way towards Bellville.
A total of about 2 500 social housing units are either nearing completion or about to commence construction, along the Voortrekker corridor or near important economic nodes.
The City has also, from as early as 2009, pursued the release of the National Government’s mega-properties for mixed-use development. This includes the inner City’s Culemborg; Wingfield along the Voortrekker corridor; Youngsfield in the south; and Ysterplaat, adjacent to Century City.
To date, the national Ministers of Human Settlements and Public Works seem to have made no progress in releasing the largest pieces of well-located land in Cape Town, signalling a lack of political commitment to enabling affordable housing. Many tens of thousands of opportunities are possible on these huge sites.
Entire City Strategy Suite aligned for affordable housing
Out of sustained commitment to expanding opportunity in key parts of the city, Cape Town has set out to align its full strategy suite to enable more well-located affordable housing, close to economic activity, along public transport routes.
Over the past decade, this includes the Integrated Transport Network Plan (2014) and Comprehensive Integrated Transport Plan (2018); the updated MSDF (2018); draft district spatial frameworks (2021) with public comment having closed on 6 June 2021; and the five-year Integrated Development Plans spanning this period.
Under the City’s new Human Settlements Strategy, recently approved by Council, all suitable municipal land continues to be assessed, from golf courses to mixed-use areas, to determine which of these properties could be developed for affordable housing, among other uses. A consolidated land pipeline will be developed to aid forward planning, including prioritised municipal land for well-located affordable housing.
It remains an extremely complex and time-consuming process to land viable social housing development. Grant funding remains inadequate at best, due to the mismanagement of resources at a national level.
National policy obstacles, red tape, and grant cuts
The national government instituted various reforms to rationalise its housing subsidy structure in 2017, which has somewhat improved the viability of the social housing legislative framework.
In fact, there is increasingly less grant funding to go around, with R118 million cut from the city’s Urban Settlements Development Grant last year alone.
The national zeitgeist is fundamentally moving away from the state as a primary provider of housing. This is being hastened by the drying up of grant funding.
Cape Town is alive to these realities and has thoroughly explored the opportunities available to the city in its various roles as provider, enabler, and regulator.
The City’s new Human Settlements Strategy aims to enable more affordable housing in these ways:
- upgrading informal settlements with increased support for small-scale builders in communities, known as ‘micro-developers’
- incentives for the private sector to deliver affordable housing, including supplying state land to build on, and reducing development costs imposed by the state
- an Inclusionary Housing Policy that will see affordable housing included in well-located new private developments
- allowing faster housing development by simplifying and shortening approval processes under the City’s control, while pushing for necessary changes to national laws and policy
- innovative partnerships with Social Housing Institutions (SHIs) and other private sector players to deliver affordable housing
Between the current 2021/22 and 2023/24 financial years, the allocated capital budget for City of Cape Town human settlements projects is approximately R3.3-billion in total. Of this, almost R2-billion is foreseen to be spent on formal subsidy housing, while approximately R1.3-billion is earmarked for informal housing and new accommodation types to address growing informality. Social housing, as part of the suite of affordable and subsidy opportunities, and to alter apartheid spatial planning, cannot be viewed in isolation. There is much work under way and a clear understanding of the road ahead and what is required.
We need constructive, bona fide, and greater partnerships to tackle the challenges of housing and spatial inclusion.