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Feb 09, 2007

State's 'Breaking New Ground' policy aims to ensure new suburbs are not isolated from social and economic infrastructure

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Engineering|Housing|PROJECT|Projects|Sustainable|Building|Environmental|Indaba|Infrastructure
Engineering|Housing|PROJECT|Projects|Sustainable|Building|Environmental|Indaba|Infrastructure
engineering|housing|project|projects|sustainable|building|environmental|indaba|infrastructure
© Reuse this The National Department of Housing says that government will continue its programme of building sustainable human settlements.

Speaking exclusively to Engineering News, through a spokesperson, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says: “We will continue to work with stakeholders in banks, the South African Property Owners’ Association (Sapoa), and others to make sure that we accelerate housing delivery.” She adds that the ‘Breaking New Ground’ policy, which calls for the building of sustainable communities close to areas of social and economic amenities, continues to be the cornerstone of all of the department’s programmes.

The minister reveals that, until now, several banks have committed R42-billion to finance the low-income market.

“It is extremely important for the department to work in partnership with the banks, whether it be on land matters or other matters.” Some of the projects already implemented in collaboration with banks include the N2 Gateway housing project in Cape Town.

This project is being carried out together with First National Bank. In Tshwane, the department is working with Absa Bank to provide affordable houses through its Olievenhoutbosch project.

“In Gauteng, we also have a project being implemented together with Standard Bank and we can confirm that discussions are in advanced stages in all provinces,” reports the minister.

On her plea to developers to allocate a certain percentage of all new developments to low-cost housing, Sisulu says that although discussions are still continuing, the department has seen more and more developers allocating a percentage to low-cost housing; for instance, 25% of the Blythendale project, in KwaZulu-Natal, has been allocated to low-cost housing.

At the Housing Indaba held in Cape Town in 2005, the Housing Department and Sapoa signed a social contract in terms of which developers are required to set aside a proportion of their projects for low-cost housing.

Although Sapoa signed the social contract, it did not commit the organisation or its members to any percentage.

“It is our view that they (Sapoa) have a role to play when they develop both residential and commercial properties.

“We need to do this in an integrated manner. “It is only through Sapoa that a shopping mall can be built with affordable accommodation for the workers. “They also own a lot of land and we want to ensure that, as they develop this land, they integrate communities of different incomes,” she says. Sapoa is an association of property owners.

On the N2 Gateway project, the minister says: “The project is proceeding well; we have learnt a lot of lessons from phase one, called Joe Slovo, with 705 houses – people have since moved in and they are happy. “We are now proceeding to build in other areas, such as Delft and Boystowns and other parts of the N2. “When concluded, we will have 23 000 families provided with decent accommodation. We can say after the pilot that we are now ready to intensify delivery.” Sisulu is on record as saying that her department and government have embarked on a number of other initiatives to speed up the delivery of low-cost housing.

She says that Cabinet has already approved four pieces of legislation to fast-track housing delivery and another four will be presented for approval later this year.

The legislation on environmental assess- ment has been revamped, amendments to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) from Land and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act has been approved by Cabinet for publication and comment, and a general Housing Bill is being amended to take account of problems experienced in the industry.

Amendments to the PIE are intended to encourage the private sector to own social housing, while a special chief directorate has been established in the Housing Department to assist developers.

One of the new bills will create a mechanism to fast-track the development of housing, while another will create a special-purpose vehicle to identify land in good locations owned by dif-ferent departments and hold that land for housing.
Edited by: Ollie Madlala
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