Roadmap for housing developments

After a series of public engagements in the Overstrand on Sunday by Western Cape Human Settlements Minister Tertuis Simmers, a clearer picture of the future of housing developments in the area has emerged. The following details were released by Simmers:

  • The Provincial Government is in the process of finalising the deed of sale for Schulphoek after a price of R31.7 million was agreed upon. 
  • The Schulphoek development will be a catalytic provincial project. This means that in effect the municipality will be the custodian of the land, but the provincial government will manage the project. The bulk infrastructure will remain an asset of the municipality.
  • Transparency and accuracy of information and the housing demand database remain key to ensuring fair allocation of houses and the first-come first-served principle will be enacted. 
  • National Treasury has advised that the Western Cape Human Settlements Department will unfortunately be subjected to budgetary cuts of between 5% and 7% over the next three years. However, in the November 2019 adjustment budget, Simmers will gazette a sum of R81 million to the Overstrand Municipality. This budget must be spent by 31 March 2020. Of that, R16.2 million will be allocated to housing opportunities in Mount Pleasant.

If all goes according to plan, earthworks on the first phase of the Schulphoek Better Living Development Project are expected to start in the second quarter of 2020, said the Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers, during a visit to Hermanus on Sunday.

At meetings held in Paradise Park, Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant, as well as a stakeholders’ meeting at the Municipal Auditorium, Simmers said he would be submitting a revised adjustment budget in November, which will incorporate both the Schulphoek Project and the Greater Hermanus Project – an omnibus budget that covers multiple projects across the municipality.

The Minister also confirmed the following:

•A selling price of R31.7 million has been agreed to. Conditions of sale include a signed funding agreement with the Overstrand Municipality and that the land may not be sold and must be used for human settlement purposes only;

•The Overstrand Municipality has signed over power of attorney to the minister, whose department will manage the project until completion, although the municipality will still be involved with its regulatory functions such as zoning and planning;

•The Overstrand Council will need to take a final decision on where to locate the desalination plant, but indications are that it will not be situated on Schulphoek;

•The Department of Education has confirmed that they would like to build a primary and secondary school on the land to meet the needs of the new residents;

•7 500 units will be built, of which 50% will be reserved for the elderly, people with disabilities, child-headed households, those who have been on the waiting list the longest, and backyard dwellers. Some of the units will be reserved for young people between the ages of 18 – 35 to rent. The remaining units will be a combination of subsidised and open-market properties;

•A 10-member working group has been meeting since April and have engaged on the design principles and formulating a draft development framework. At present a draft implementation plan has been crafted and a decision has been taken to put this into practice on the southern point of the site that already has development rights and where there is no occupation. This will be phase 1 and the projected starting date is 1 April 2020.

•Transparency and accuracy of information and the housing demand database remain key to ensuring fair allocation of houses and the first-come first-served principle will be enacted.
•A unique version of the beneficiary verification app will be tested over the November/December period and should be active by February/March 2020. Applicants will then be able to go online to check their status.

•Title Deeds handover will be accelerated in the Minister’s five-year plan. The aim is to ensure title deeds are provided soonest after new housing developments are concluded and handed over to the beneficiaries.

•The Better Living Model remains the focus of the Schulphoek Development. The Zwelihle community has indicated that they will forward a list of their official delegation as legitimate representatives of the community to the Hermanus Stakeholder’s Forum once they have concluded their election process through a public meeting planned in the next two weeks.

•A Social Compact will be assigned by mid-November and this process will be driven by the municipality’s Directorate of Community Services. A Social Compact is an implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for the social benefit of all. Among the issues that the members of the Social Compact will need to consider, is how many units to allocate to the different potential residents.

Minister Simmers once again emphasised that Schulphoek is going to be a “mixed-use, mixed-income” project that will offer properties for all socio-economic groups of society. “This project is for the entire community of the Overstrand. Integration is going to come. It is the only way we can eradicate the past.”

Philo Mayisela, Chief Director: Human Settlements Implementation, said a revised layout and design “that blends with the area” will be presented by the architects in October. She reassured the stakeholders that, although multi-storey buildings will be constructed, the intention was not to create a Cape Flats-like environment.

As with his previous visit, the minister urged residents to not invade the Schulphoek land and said that existing occupants will be decamped and shifted to another part of the land during construction. He also urged all residents who qualify for housing to make sure that they are registered as beneficiaries by November.

One of the issues that was not clarified by either the Overstrand Municipality, nor the minister, was what will happen to the conditions that were agreed to when the land was first sold in 2010 by the municipality for R23.2 million. At the time, only R5.3 million was paid in cash. The remaining amount, nearly R18 million, was to be used for the building of an access and link road (R14.3 million), for electrical services
(R3 million) and for fees, charges and levies (R1.4 million).

The minister said that the Western Cape was the first province to include backyard dwellers as a priority group for housing.

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