Vacant land in Khayelitsha: Old Mutual responds

| Old Mutual
Old Mutual’s Portside building in the city centre. A condition for buying the property where this building is situated is that land owned by Old Mutual in Khayelitsha would be developed. Seven years later it remains vacant. Photo by Brent Meersman.

On 28 April GroundUp reported that land in Thembokwezi, Khayelitsha had not been developed by Old Mutual despite a commitment to do so in 2008. Here is Old Mutual’s response.

When Old Mutual initially purchased the Portside property, we accepted an obligation to the City of Cape Town to develop 500 houses in Khayelitsha. In consultation with the stakeholders, a proposal was developed to create a mixed-use development that included a commercial component as well as the development of 500 houses. However, while the initial proposal and feasibility included a mixed-use development, the obligation was for 500 houses and not to specifically build a commercial centre.

Despite Old Mutual’s best efforts to accommodate a shopping centre, it became apparent that there is a lack of support for a retail development from potential retailers. As a responsible investor, Old Mutual became concerned that a vacant shopping centre would not be in the interests of the community.

We therefore set about creating a low density residential scheme in association with an experienced professional team and in line with best principles of urban design. The proposal was presented to stakeholders in 2011.

Strong objections to the housing development were then received from various groups within the Khayelitsha community and thus the development of the houses has not been able to commence. However, Old Mutual has been actively engaging with the community to resolve the issues for some time now.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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