Housing development on track for 2010

31st July 2009 By: Carla Thomaz

The occupation of the first phase of the R8-billion Lufhereng housing deve- lopment, west of Soweto, is on track for February 2010,

at which time, the City of Johannesburg’s housing department reports, it will be engaging with the Gauteng Department of Housing in an attempt to commit to a budget in this financial year for the construction of the first school.

“One of the biggest housing developments ever to be under- taken in Johannesburg is well under way. Phase 1A and 1B will be completed in February and May 2010, respectively, with the major bulk services installed and electricity supply to every home,” says City of Johannesburg housing project manager Charles Davis.

The 1 800-ha Lufhereng project, previously known as Doornkop Greenfields, was conceived and initiated by the Gauteng Depart- ment of Housing, as a large-scale mixed-housing development, with an urban agriculture component. It will provide between 24 000 houses and 25 000 houses and will be developed in three phases over a period of seven to nine years.

The Gauteng Department of Housing and the City of Johannesburg are jointly pro- moting the project, which will include fully subsidised housing for the poorest of the poor, afford- able housing for low-income households and middle- to high-income bonded housing stock for the general market.

The development, which is being guided by a project steering committee established in 2005, will tackle the housing backlog in Soweto by target- ing certain communities, as well as the 1996/7 housing waiting list. The steering committee comprises representatives of the Gauteng Department of Housing, the City of Johannesburg housing department and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment. The scale of the project requires across-the-board involvement of all council departments and entities such as Johannesburg Water, Johannesburg Roads Agency, Pikitup and City Parks, to serve on other planning committees.

“Apart from the fully subsidised housing units, the project will provide affordable housing opportunities for all, consisting of freehold stands and an array of rental housing. At its peak, the project is expected to produce about 150 serviced stands each month over an extended period,” says Davis.

Unique to this housing deve- lopment will be a 480-ha agri-estate that will promote small- to medium-scale farming. The urban agricultural component will consist of openfield farming of high-value crops for the production of essential oils, with 100 × 1 080 m2 hydroponic farming units with an equal num- ber of fish breeding schemes, as well as 1 000 × 90 m2 hydroponic units.

“The agri-estate will grow plants for essential oils that could yield high income for small families, as well as certain types of freshwater fish for the export market, all creating downstream opportunities, such as pressing, packaging, storage and transport facilities, as a stimulus for local employment,” adds Davis.

In the four secured agri-estates, Lufhereng agribusinesses will be implemented for emerging black economically empowered farmers, supported by training and men- toring, and managed and moni- tored through cooperative structures. There will also be a benefi- ciation park, retail outlets, research stations, and a skills development centre with upstream and downstream business opportunities creating up to 10 000 jobs. The agriculture plots will be leased initially and then converted to freehold once the sustainability of the particular farmer has been established.

“In line with the national government’s Breaking New Ground policy, which calls for the building of sustainable communities close to areas of social and economic amenities, the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Department of Housing plan to design and create sustainable communities and neighbour- hoods, which will include the design and development of social and supportive facilities,” says Davis.

As a result, the project will also include social, institu- tional, commercial, municipal and public open space. Provision has been made for over 15 primary and secondary schools, with the Gauteng Department of Education starting construction of the first school in the next six months.

There will be over 60 commu- nity facilities, including churches, crèches, clinics, parks, playgrounds, refuse sites, police stations, libraries, sporting faci- lities and commercial facilities. “We are in active discussions with the relevant national and provincial authorities responsible for such functions to procure, plan and budget for those facilities,” adds Davis.

He reports that a number of contracts have already been awarded and work is progressing well. The bulk sanitation contract for the construction of the 2-km link for the draining of sewer discharges for the Lufhereng development was awarded to the King Civils/Ludinga joint venture, in September 2008. The contract is valued at over R12-million and is about 95% complete.

The construction of the first two large bulk attenuation ponds that will be part of the larger stormwater system was awarded to Lefika Road Construction, in September 2008, and about 80% of the R47-million contract has been completed to date.

The tender for the construction of the 2 924-m bulk water line from the reservoir north of Doornkop was advertised in May and tenders are currently being evaluated. The estimated value of this contract is in the region of R15-million.

The construction of the internal engineering services roads, stormwater, sanitation and water reticulation, as well as the linking of these services for Lufhereng phase 1A and 1B, was awarded in June 2008 to Gamont Housing on a turnkey basis. The water and sewage portion of the contract is about 68% complete and 20% of the roads and stormwater services has been completed. The overall value of the contract is about R103-million.

Gamont Housing has also been awarded the R80-million contract for the construction of the 1 192 fully subsidised units for Phase 1A and 1B. The show village is 80% complete. Construction on the other top structures in Lufhereng 1A has begun and is about 45% complete.

City Power has received appro- val from State-owned power utility Eskom for the transfer of the electrification rights for the entire Lufhereng development from Eskom, which has made available a temporary connection for about 1 100 housing units. Electrical contractors are being appointed for the installation of the electrical network for phase 1A and 1B.

Davis adds that City Power and Eskom are busy finalising the arrangements for the construction of the bulk supply, which will require the upgrading of the Taunus substation, high-voltage transmission lines and two small substations connecting to the transmission lines.

“The City of Johannesburg, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Housing, is committed to making this project a successful model for the Breaking New Ground project, while simultaneously tackling the housing backlog in the province,” concludes Davis.