Brett Herron
Former urban development and transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

CAPE TOWN – Public and activist pressure resulted in the DA-led city reversing its decision to block the transfer of the Salt River Market site to Communicare, says former urban development and transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron.

This after the City gave the green light for the transfer of the site for mixed-use development that could make space for about 820 affordable housing units.

However, the motives have been called questionable by Herron, as the project was previously blocked.

The site houses the Salt River Market, the municipal hall, derelict stables; and is bounded by Voortrekker and Bromwell roads and the railway line.

Herron said it was public and activist pressure that led the DA to reversing its October decision to block the disposal of the site to Communicare.

“I welcome the reversal of that decision. Public land must be used for public good. After I publicly exposed their vague and shifting objections to disposing land for subsidised state housing, they reversed their October decision to block an affordable housing project on the Salt River Market site,” said Herron.

“Salt River and Woodstock are experiencing significant gentrification pressures and my team was constantly delayed or prevented from mitigating the impact of this development trend.”

The City’s pre-feasibility study found that more than 820 affordable housing units could be provided as part of a mixed-use, mixed-income development, consisting of 216 social housing units (these are affordable rental units for families with a combined monthly income of between R1500 and R15000), 100 GAP units (for families with a combined income of R22 000 per month) and 507 residential units where the monthly rent is capped at R13000.

The mayoral committee member for Human Settlements, Malusi Booi, said: “The Salt River Market site is valued at R114.3 million, but council has agreed to make the land available at 10% of the price – R11.4m – to a Social Housing Institution (SHI) for development in the near future.

“It’s very important to point out that this is an in-principle approval only. This is the first step in the process to implement the proposal to transfer and develop this City-owned land.

“The City still needs to draw up a development agreement with terms and conditions which is to serve before council for approval.

“It’s only thereafter, and once council agrees with the development agreement and conditions, that the site will be formally transferred to the Social Housing Institution partner who will develop this land.”

Social movement Reclaim the City said the council’s decision was small but significant because it demonstrated that change was possible.

“We have reclaimed Salt River Market. Communities in Woodstock and Salt River have been severely damaged. Instead of defending poor and working-class communities, our council has been at the forefront of the attack.

“Let us remember that council is still insisting the Wolwerivier relocation camp is acceptable. Only last month a small cabal attempted to derail plans at the Salt River Market. But resistance is growing and this change of heart is the result of ordinary people standing up and organising to secure change.”

Communicare chief executive Anthea Houston said: “I am absolutely delighted that the City of Cape Town has approved this visionary project. We can now start thinking differently about housing families from different social and economic backgrounds together in our city.

“The project sets a precedent on mixed-use developments that integrates marginal communities into the mainstream of our society. It is the first of its kind in the country. There were many detractors and sceptics who resisted this development.”

Source: IOL