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Empty Khayelitsha land to be developed at last

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Fewer houses and a shopping centre to be built

Photo of empty land in Khayelitsha
Eight years after a commitment to build houses there, the Thembokwezi site in Khayelitsha is still empty. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
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The Khayelitsha Development Forum, the City of Cape Town and Old Mutual have reached a compromise on a new retail centre and housing on land owned by the insurance giant in Thembokwezi, Khayelitsha.

GroundUp reported last year that Old Mutual had not kept a 2008 promise to build more than 500 low cost houses and a shopping centre on the land.

The promise was part of a deal with the City, involving the purchase by Old Mutual of City-owned land for the Portside development in the city centre.

The original agreement was for retail space and housing. But in 2011 Old Mutual told the City that because of other retail developments close by, the shopping centre would not be viable, suggesting that 500 housing units be built. The KDF objected, insisting on the shopping centre.

In January 2015 Old Mutual asked the City to reduce the number of houses from 500 to 250.

Ian Neilson, the city’s deputy mayor, confirmed to GroundUp that progress had been made in talks with Old Mutual and the KDF and said the city council would soon be asked to approve a project involving both retail and housing on the land.

Consultant Thando Siwisa said on behalf of Old Mutual, that plans were “progressing well”.

He would not say how many houses would be built. But according to the minutes of a meeting last September attended by representatives of the City, Old Mutual and KDF, those involved appear to have compromised on 280 houses and a shopping centre.

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TOPICS:  Housing
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Letters

Dear Editor

This is not a good decision at all. Khayelitsha has a population of more than 1.2 million and 30% of that population is young people with no home or ownership of property. Building yet another shopping centre will not solve this. It may be good for temporary job creation because it will not be sustainable.

The plan is to build more houses and make sure there's no corruption within the tender and building process. This alone will create jobs for a period of 5-6 years. Take the shopping centre money and devise an Old Mutual empowerment programme rather than building yet another shopping centre.

Dear Editor

People need homes. Eight years and still nothing done about housing. Why must people beg?

Build a few three story flatlets!

- Bottom floors for the aged of 61 - older

- Middle floors for above 40 - 60 years

- Top floors younger people - 39

With three storey buildings you can house many more people and build more buildings. Please, no shops!

Dear Editor

I agree with Sindile Mavundla that housing is desperately needed in Khayelitsha, however the current spatial form of Khayelitsha is unsustainable and more commercial activities must be included. Currently Khayelitsha's spatial form is too heavily dominated by residential activities which means that too many people from Khayelitsha must travel every day to other suburbs (especially the central city) for jobs, shopping and other commercial activities. This costs people too much money. We need to mix residential with commercial activities and create mixed use environments. However, research indicates that a shopping center is not the best way to do this - live/work units as implemented by the VPUU are the best solution, where flats are built above shops run or let out by the residents themselves.

Dear Editor

One of the main reasons the development of that piece of land failed even after the rare sod-turning by the then state president Thabo Mbeki, is that key decisions about what is in the best interest of the immediate community were taken without the involvement of that specific community.

It's good enough that KDF deems Khayelitsha a decentralised zone however, sections of communities continue to exist and with each section is aligned a unique history, challenges, needs, and that requires by default a level of autonomy, fair enough within the bounds of the broader Khayelitsha-wide framework. This has always been granted in any immediate community wherein development has landed in Khayelitsha.

All that the people of Thembokhwezi are saying is that no one knows what is in their best interest more than themselves. Whether its a mall, houses, sports or recreational facilities etc. They, like all others before, should have the deciding say. Until then, we shall continue individually cutting that bush with our bare hands. After all, it's in our backyards.