A total of 7 500 housing opportunities are set to be created as part of the Schulphoek Better Living Model development planned by the provincial government.
According to Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertius Simmers, the province is set to conclude the purchase agreement with the current owners of the Schulphoek land within the next two to three weeks.
Simmers did not want to disclose the purchase price, except to say that a fair price has been negotiated and that more details will be made available during his next visit in three weeks’ time.
This follows weeks of confusion over the status of the planned development, and the possible purchase of the land, after it was stated in the Cape High Court, during an application for an eviction order by the current owners, that the land would not be bought back. This matter was postponed by Judge Elize Steyn to 5 September.
During his visit on Sunday and Monday to Hermanus, Simmers met with the Zwelihle community as well as the Hermanus Stakeholders Group that consists of all the relevant roleplayers in town. At the stakeholders’ meeting, he said that the Schulphoek development was one of seven projects in the province that have been identified as urgent.
“It is our mandate to deliver suitable and economically sustainable human settlements to all communities. Human settlement is more than just houses, it includes all developments such as halls, churches, schools and recreational facilities. These developments are about integrating communities and that is what will happen in Schulphoek. It will not be a development for just one community but will offer an opportunity for integration,” Simmers said.
According to him, attention will also be given to all housing lists in the province to ensure that any form of corruption is rooted out and that only those most deserving of housing opportunities will receive them. “If we find, for instance, that people who receive houses rent them out within the first few weeks after being handed the keys, I will not hesitate to take those houses back. If that is the case, the recipient did not deserve the house,” he said.
He also said that, in future, new and innovative ways need to be found to unlock the value of municipal properties. “If a piece of land or a building is not being used optimally, I will ask that this property be transferred to the provincial government to be used to create human settlements.”
He said that there are several human settlement developments in the country, and specifically one in Belhar, near Cape Town, where higher density projects are being developed to offer as many housing opportunities as possible. “A housing opportunity can take many forms. It includes freestanding homes, multi-storey dwellings, a serviced plot or rental accommodation. The development in Hermanus will aim to cater for all the needs in the various communities.”
Simmers added that backyard dwellers will in future also be included as a priority on the provincial housing lists.
It was re-emphasized that the only way in which the Better Living development at Schulphoek can go ahead is by stopping the illegal occupation of the land.
“I need two commitments from the community. The first is the undertaking that all occupation of the land will cease. The second is that all stakeholders continually communicate with their constituents to ensure that they are aware of what is happening at all times, to ensure that rumours and misinformation are not spread.”
Phila Mayisela, Chief Director: Human Settlement Implementation at the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, said the project cannot continue if the land continues to be occupied.
Mayisela also gave further details to the stakeholders’ forum on the progress of the development plans for Schulphoek ahead of the next meeting of the 16-member working group on 22 July 2019.
She said that one of the key challenges is how to bring the community onboard with the planning of the project and announced that a number of NGOs had been appointed to assist the stakeholders with the process. The involvement of ward councillors and community leaders will be crucial, she pointed out.
Other key issues that the working group will be looking at in the next weeks include what type of buildings (four- or two-storey or semi-detached) will be needed to create the goal of 7 500 housing opportunities, as well as the pros and cons of installing a desalination plant.
Mayisela said that, at this point, the working group is considering doing the Schulphoek project in two phases as the area that is closest to the ocean already has development rights. However, they will be working with other government departments on rezoning and the environmental approval processes.
She said that specific attention will be given to the environmental impact of the development on the area. “While it will not be possible to conserve the complete milkwood forest anymore we will look for opportunities to conserve what is left and, if possible, try to rehabilitate some of the areas.”
The Department of Human Settlements also said that they are considering setting up another working group to look at how to create housing opportunities in the whole of the Overstrand.
The Schulphoek project proposal is informed by the Conradie Better Living Model being developed in Pinelands, Cape Town. The concept is to make well-located, affordable housing available in an area where the upmarket section of the development will assist in subsidising the lower-priced units.
The proposal that was presented in March 2019 by Architect Mokena Makeka of Makeka Design Lab was for 1 000 housing units and included a multi-storey, mixed-use zone consisting of both retail and housing space, a beach-facing residential area, seafront promenade, a pedestrian avenue, a milkwood forest corridor, mariculture facility and a desalination plant.