Ambitious R1bn plan for metro housing
Development outside Despatch set to provide homes for 45 000 people
PLANS have been set in motion for a R1-billion integrated housing development, set to provide homes for nearly 45 000 residents on the outskirts of Despatch over the next 15 years.
The Florida Heights development, which is expected to break ground in December on vacant land along the R367 across the Swartkops River, has been lauded by business and political leaders in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
The first phase of the government-backed project will bring nearly 10 000 direct and indirect job opportunities over five years, according to the developer behind the project, Sakhisizwe.
This follows Bhisho’s recent rejection of a plan to develop a massive mixed housing estate opposite the Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth, after it was deemed to be a threat to the Baakens River.
The Florida Heights scheme – one of the catalytic projects identified by the national Department of Human Settlements throughout South Africa – is funded by the national housing department and is set to be an economic boon for Despatch and Uitenhage.
“This is a critical and muchneeded project for the Bay, and one we are excited to break ground on,” Sakhisizwe chief executive William Charles said.
His company was involved in the development of the Port of Ngqura.
The first phase of the project will see 1 020 housing units developed alongside community and mixeduse facilities, including space for a mall, landscaped public spaces and community facilities.
A total of 740 of the units built in phase one will be social housing apartments for rent, while 100 units will form part of the finance linked individual subsidy programme (FLISP) – meaning homes will be sold to residents with government subsidies on the bonds.
A further 180 units will be RDP homes and military veteran units.
Meanwhile, phase two – which is still in the planning stages – will include an additional 12 030 units.
The second phase is expected to be completed in 15 years.
The development will be located on 50ha of land, of which 23ha will be left undeveloped.
According to Charles, this land belongs to the provincial human settlements department, but the process is under way to transfer the land to Sakhisizwe.
The scheme will go a long way towards alleviating the metro’s housing backlog of more than 80 000 units, according to the national Housing Development Agency’s technical assessment framework report for the scheme.
The report indicates that the development could also bring several benefits for residents of the area.
“The existing road network will be upgraded to accommodate the additional traffic generated by the proposed development,” it says.
“The area is well-located in terms of places of employment and main transportation routes.
“This will also contribute to secure property values. It can be con- cluded that the proposed development will have a positive impact on property values in the area.”
The project was a significant shift away from the government’s approach to addressing the backlog, Clayton Johnson-Goddard, an urban designer on the project, said.
“At all times, integrated developments should focus on the users it serves,” he said.
“Integrated developments should create neighbourhoods and communities that serve and benefit each aspect of a person’s livelihood – whether it be work or play.” Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber spokeswoman Cindy Preller welcomed the news of the project. “The job creation numbers are encouraging,” she said.
“Other than the obvious economic spin-offs of an investment of this nature, we also welcome news that the project will eradicate the housing backlog.”
This was echoed by chief of staff in the mayor’s office, Kristoff Adelbert.
“Given the huge backlog in housing as a result of years of incompetent government, it is certainly encouraging that the national government is fulfilling its mandate to deliver houses,” Adelbert said.
Integrated developments such as Florida Heights are the first concrete moves away from the government’s RDP housing schemes – a result of the Social Housing Act of 2009.
Whereas RDP developments were relegated to the outskirts of cities – far from clinics, major employment hubs and convenience stores – integrated developments include such facilities, as well as secure access, public transport nodes and landscaped public spaces.
Charles said: “As founders and proponents of Sakhisizwe Trust, [my wife] Sylvia Charles and I have spent many years thoroughly researching integrated developments abroad – especially those in Germany and the Netherlands – and tailoring this project to fit the needs of local low- to middle-income residents.”
BIG PLANS: Sakhisizwe chief executive William Charles on the site of the R1-billion Florida Heights integrated development