Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)
‘Hands off the Tafelberg site’
SEA Point residents are opposing a lobby group’s calls for the provincial government to use the empty Tafelberg school site for affordable housing.
David Polovin, deputy chairman of the Sea Point Fresnaye Bantry Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association (SFB), said residents viewed the site as a “powerful engine for change in the neighbourhood”.
“The use to which it finally is put could regenerate, enrich and uplift the area, or conversely set it back significantly,” said Polovin.
“The proposed alternative, that it be used for affordable housing, is neither practicable nor in the interests of the Sea Point community.”
Lobby group Reclaim the City says using the site for housing would counter what it calls Cape Town’s “apartheid spatial planning”.
Earlier this month the group asked the Western Cape High Court to stop the provincial Transport and Public Works Department selling Tafelberg for R135 million to the Phyllis Jowel Jewish Day School.
The court ordered the department to reopen the pub- lic consultation process.
The department had promoted, via a brochure, “four prime opportunities for investors”.
Sea Point residents plan to make their voices heard during the 21-day public consultation process that ends on June 9.
Polovin said residents believed if the provincial government sold Tafelberg it could use “proceeds from the sale for affordable housing or other social upliftment needs” elsewhere.
“We think the property does not meet the criteria for affordable housing. There is much better provincial-owned land for affordable housing in Cape Town, such as the old Conradie Hospital site in Pinelands,” he said.
“We are not persuaded that it ( affordable housing) serves the interests of Sea Pointers, including residents and workers.”
Polovin said it was “naive to imagine that the government is better at land management than private enterprise”.
“There is little state-owned rentals (stock) in Sea Point and the area is not and has never been suitable for affordable housing, which explains why there is little of it,” he added.
“No informed person can believe that Sea Point offers a viable opportunity to spend public money on affordable housing and we’ve heard no proper reason to gainsay that.
“What we’ve heard instead are political imaginings that take no account of town planning considerations, budgetary constraints and the optimal use of thin resources for competing demands.”
Weekend Argus found at least two state-owned properties in Sea Point that are abandoned and fenced up.
One is Rocklands Villas behind the SABC building and the other is Wynyard Mansions behind the Tafelberg.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said Rocklands Villas was a “building purchased long ago to provide the SABC additional capacity”.
It was unsuitable for human occupation and had been empty since 1996.
Siphesihle Dube, spokes- man for Donald Grant, MEC for Transport and Public Works, said Wynyard Mansions was part of the Tafelberg sale and had also been sold to the Phyllis Jowel school.
“This proposed sale has been taken under legal review. This process is currently under way.”