South Africa: Huge New Housing Project in Retreat

29 November 2019

5,000 homes to be built, says MEC, but Parkwood residents still sceptical

Following housing protests in the area, Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers has announced a R1.5 billion, 5,000-home project in the Greater Retreat area. But Parkwood residents are sceptical.

Last year hundreds of Parkwood backyarders occupied vacant land off Prince George Drive. Protests continued this year with protesters complaining that the whole area was overcrowded and no new houses had been built for many years.

Greater Retreat area consists of ward 62 (Plumstead), ward 63 (Ottery and Ferness), ward 65 (Lotus River), ward 66 (Parkwood and Ottery East), ward 67 (Vrygrond, Seawinds, Grassy Park), ward 68 (Lavender Hill, Steenberg), ward 72 (Retreat, Southfield) and ward 110 (Cafda).

In a statement on 25 November Simmers said that the project would include Breaking New Ground (BNG) or free houses, Community Residential Units (CRU), rental and social housing, open market and units built for the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP).

He said the project would start in mid 2021 and "the last key" would be handed over in 2024. "Various amenities such as schools and recreational facilities will also form part of this development."

In an email to GroundUp, Simmers' spokesperson Marcellino Martin provided details. He said the project would include 1,350 Breaking New Ground units in four-storey buildings, 750 units in four-storey CRU walk-ups, 350 units in three-storey Breaking New Ground housing, 300 units in double-storey Breaking New Ground housing, 250 units for mixed use, incorporating residential, light industrial, small business and offices, 1,250 FLISP housing units with retail/restaurants on ground storey, 250 units in double storey buildings on the open market and 500 units open market above the FLISP housing. (For an explanation of these different types of housing, see our guide.)

The department would also construct 12 two-storey apartments and 75 single dwellings in ward 63 (Ottery/Ferness).

Dominique Booysen, the chairperson of the Parkwood backyarders' association and a member of the Greater Retreat Steering Committee, told GroundUp that Parkwood residents were not excited about the initiatives. "They do not believe in them anymore because of the previous broken promises. When I try to convince them that this time it is for real, they say the government is using you. I can't blame them."

Only six Parkwood residents attended the meeting with Simmers held on 12 November in Ottery Civic Centre. "It was short notice. They wanted the meeting to happen in Parkwood for a change but the officials say they can't because there is no venue. The residents were proposing that the committee seek a venue in a school."

However, according to Councillor William Akim of ward 66, more than 120 people from Grassy Park and Ottery attended the meeting. "They were very happy, especially that they were given an opportunity to raise their concerns with the minister. The community told the minister to be fair when allocating houses and ensure the right people on the list are given houses."

Responding to the complaints about the meeting not taking place in Parkwood, Akim said, "We don't have a City facility any more in Parkwood. It was vandalised during the protest and was later demolished. The City is now in the process of rebuilding the facility that was destroyed. The City will start consultation and public hearings about the new facility in two weeks."

"We sought a venue at the schools but they were using their halls for matric examinations."

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