Big move on housing

Families illegally occupyied a portion of City-owned land behind Crestway High School last year.

A housing project may soon be on the cards for Retreat, according to the City of Cape Town.

The news was relayed to the United Homeless People’s Development Association (UHPDA) which met City officials on Thursday September 28.

The UHPDA fights for housing for backyarders residents of informal settlements.

For five years the association has lobbied the City to build houses on three sites: the open land behind Crestway High School; Allenby Drive in Retreat; and in Peter Charles Street, Cafda.

Howard Soetwater, the association’s leader, said the meeting was long overdue.

“This issue has been ongoing for more than five years and it’s been on the sub-council’s agenda for a long time, but we don’t feel like the plight of the people is being treated as urgent,” said Mr Soetwater.

The association’s members have been very vocal about the need for housing in the greater Retreat area. Last year, they invaded land behind Crestway High School (“Violence at land clash,” Southern Mail, March 16, 2016).

In May this year, they marched on the Retreat rental office and the offices of ward councillors Marita Petersen and Shanen Rossouw, calling for an environmental assessment on the sites where they want houses.

However, the City has now said that only one of the three sites could work for housing.

Cecilia Thiem, from the City’s human settlements department, said the sites had been environmentally screened, and the one in Peter Charles Street was mostly wetland, with space for 97 units and too limited, while Nectar Road was also wetland and subject to a land claim.

So the department has set its sights on using the land behind Crestway High School for a future project that could accommodate some 1530 units.

Ms Thiem said a tender to appoint environmental, engineering and town planing consultants would likely go out by March next year. If the consultants deemed the project feasible, construction tenders would be issued.

The City said the units would only be available to local applicants who were on the housing database, and residents should update their details to make sure they were traceable.