STATEMENT BY BRETT HERRON, GOOD MEMBER OF THE WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT AND SECRETARY GENERAL FOR GOOD
13 August 2019
I WELCOME THE REZONING OF THE SALT RIVER MARKET SITE AS A SMALL STEP TOWARDS PROVIDING SOME SOCIAL HOUSING IN THE INNER CITY
The disposal of the Salt River Market site to Communicare for a mixed use, mixed income affordable housing project was initially blocked by the DA in October 2018. They reversed their decision, following huge public pressure, in December 2018.
I welcome the announcement by Mayor Dan Plato that the Salt River Market site was rezoned to permit a mixed use development to commence which will include 216 social housing units.
I resigned from the DA and from Council over the DA’s initial resistance to this development and their decision to withdraw the project from the Council agenda in October 2018.
Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction.
However it is a very small step.
We are facing a housing deficit crisis across all income groups and last week’s cancellation of the affordable housing projects on 5 sites identified in Woodstock, Salt River and the City Centre is a major set-back to the urgent need to address this crisis.
The 5 sites would have added an unprecedented 4000 social housing units into the inner city precinct.
In this context the announcement about the Salt River Market site’s rezoning is clearly an attempt to mitigate the devastating blow to the affordable housing cause and to lend the appearance of a government that is acting on the housing crisis.
While I truly do welcome the rezoning it is patently obvious that the cancellation of the 5 sites and the loss of 4000 social housing units, in addition to other housing including GAP, cannot be mitigated with tokenism.
We need a government that is looking to partner with the private sector and build, build and build.
I am deeply concerned by the Mayor’s new narrative – introduced for the first time in a opinion piece in a weekend paper and repeated in his statement today – that there was something irregular in disposing of the site without development rights.
Firstly, the disposal took place in December 2018 when he was already the Mayor.
Secondly, the non-profit social housing company, Communicare, paid an inflated price for the site based on the City’s own Property Management Department’s valuation.
The 2014 valuation for the site was based on the lack of development rights at the time; whilst in 2018 the Property Management Department took the potential development rights into account in valuing the property for disposal.
As a result of the Property Management Department’s 2018 valuation (which assumed development rights) the value of the property was inflated by about 500% from the previous valuation and the site was disposed of to Communicare on this basis.
Finally, if the City has decided it is irregular to dispose of sites that have no development rights then why did it take out four full page advertisements in last week’s newspapers advertising the intention to dispose of public land parcels which have no development rights?
The Mayor is either being profoundly dishonest or he is profoundly confused. He needs to clarify this urgently as his government is once again creating uncertainty.
In the meantime, I have requested the Public Protector to investigate the City’s approach to the valuation and disposal of the Salt River Market site.
Last week the Public Protector confirmed that they will be investigating the city’s approach to the Salt River Market site.