Cape Town releases more land for affordable housing under new housing strategy

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The city of Cape Town

13th June 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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With national government slashing Cape Town’s housing grants by R107-million this financial year, the city has been forced to change its housing strategy, says Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Cape Town is now positioning itself as an enabler for much more private sector-led affordable housing delivery, including the release of discounted land for social housing, while also ramping up support for micro-developers in townships.

“Last year alone we released more than 2 200 social housing units across seven land parcels under our priority programme, most of these in Cape Town’s inner city,” says Hill-Lewis.

Municipal-owned properties in central Cape Town that have been released to social housing developers to date will yield more than 3 500 units.

They include Pine Road, Dillon Lane and Pickwick in Woodstock, as well as Salt River Market and the now tenanted Maitland Mews development.

This month has seen the land release of the Newmarket Street site in Woodstock, on the edge of the central business district, as part of what the city calls its Accelerated Land Release for Affordable Housing Programme.

“You may recall that the original feasibility study for this 10 300 m2 property envisaged 165 social units as part of a mixed-use development,” says Hill-Lewis.

“However, that number was brought up to 200 units, which will be cross-subsidised by retail space and more than 300 gap and market rental units.”

Cape Town has also rezoned the Newmarket Street property in order to reduce the development timeframes following the land release.

“One of the reasons why we are able to increase the yield of social housing units on these land parcels, is the new set of guidelines we adopted in this council just over a year ago,” adds Hill-Lewis.

“These new guidelines provide clarity on which factors the city considers when discounting the land we release to social housing institutions and private developers, and allow for an accelerated city land release for more affordable housing.”

Hill-Lewis regards this model as the future of affordable housing – where the State plays an enabling role by discounting the land and providing bulk services, allowing the private sector to deliver the housing units.

“Here in Cape Town it’s working exceptionally well. In total, city-wide, we have over 6 500 social housing units at various stages in the planning pipeline across 50 parcels of land.

“These units are a real game changer for qualifying residents who earn less that R22 000 a month.

“Built on well-located land close to the city centre or other business nodes, they place lower-income Capetonians right on the doorstep of opportunities, jobs, schools and other services.”

“I also hope that these winds of change will blow with fresh urgency to release some of the mega-properties owned by national government throughout our metro,” adds Hill-Lewis.

“We estimate that around 100 000 social housing opportunities are possible at sites such as Wingfield, Youngsfield, Ysterplaat and the Parliamentary village.”


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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