Cape Town – A court dispute between the National Health Laboratory Services and the provincial departments of Transport and Public Works has stalled the rezoning of the Somerset precinct.
It was exactly one year ago when the Municipal Planning Tribunal gave the green light for the development of hundreds of social housing flats in the Waterfront area.
Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, spokesperson for MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said: “The rezoning has already been approved by the City of Cape Town (Council). Erf 1955 Green Point, which forms part of the Somerset precinct, is currently registered in the ownership of the National Health Laboratory Services.
“This matter is before the Western Cape High Court with an application by the Western Cape government (WCG) to set aside this registration and restore ownership of Erf 1955 to the WCG.
“While this court process is under way, there is no consolidation under way of the WCG-owned remainder of Erf 1559 and Erf 1955 Green Point.”
The tribunal approved the provincial government’s application to consolidate and rezone the Somerset precinct. The approval will allow hundreds of social housing flats to be built on almost 11 hectares (the size of about 11 soccer fields) on some of the most valuable public land in the city.
Makoba-Somdaka said building could only take place when all the preparatory steps took place.
The tribunal’s announcement was hailed as a victory by housing activists who have for years fought for land within the inner city to be utilised for social housing.
Jonty Cogger, attorney at Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre, said: “The Western Cape provincial government has failed to use its vacant and under-utilised land and buildings for well-located, affordable housing since the dawn of democracy.
“In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people have little to no real options for access to decent and dignified housing. And so, to suggest that people in need of housing are the primary barrier is a deflection and a distraction from the more urgent issue across the city – being the state’s failure to fulfil its constitutional obligations.”