Am­bi­tious R1bn plan for metro hous­ing

De­vel­op­ment out­side Des­patch set to pro­vide homes for 45 000 peo­ple

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Odette Parfitt parfitto@ti­soblack­star.co.za

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.”

Pic­ture: BRIAN WITBOOI

BIG PLANS: Sakhi­sizwe chief ex­ec­u­tive Wil­liam Charles on the site of the R1-bil­lion Florida Heights in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment

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