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Monday Oct 26, 2020

Cape Town calls for comments on District Six plans

The engagement process has hardly started - the plan and the purpose of the meeting were read out. But to some participants, the mere mention of District Six evoked emotions.

More than 20 years after they lodged claims with the Department of Rural Development and Land Claims, their claims have not been finalised, and some of the claimants have since died.

The City has now started an engagement process on the Local Spatial Development Framework (LSDF) for District Six to provide policy direction for the nature and form of development that would take place, and to guide decisions on land and environment use.

"The redevelopment of District Six is one of the most important redress projects we will see in Cape Town in the coming years. The local neighbourhood plan is important as this will determine the look and feel of District Six," said Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt.

The framework will focus on the location and design of public open spaces, how the area connects with surrounding neighbourhoods, the land uses and future developments, as well as the provision of public facilities and roads.

On Thursday, City officials, claimants, interested and affected parties came together to "co-plan, and co-design" the suburb.
The Bill of Rights states that all people forcefully removed or dispossessed of their property because of discriminatory apartheid laws have a constitutional right to adequate redress or restitution.

"People are dying before their claims are finalised. Why are we talking about development now when that restitution process is not finalised?" said one participant.

According to the City's Spatial Development official, Nigel Titus, the framework also takes into consideration the historical buildings, street grids and memory of District Six.

The area for the redevelopment extends from Canterbury and Roeland Streets in the west, to Searle and Cambridge Street in the east, Sir Lowry and Albert Roads in the north and De Waal Drive to the south.

It includes existing buildings and roads, open spaces, underground infrastructure, buried watercourses, and archaeological sensitive sites, according to Titus's presentation.

"De Waal Drive is a scenic route and views from this national road are to be protected," said Titus.

On October 13, one of the oldest claimants, Amina "Aunty Minnie" Gool celebrated her 102 birthday. Her son, Yusuf Gool, 70, said his mother didn't talk much about District Six anymore. "But she has fond memories of the place."

He remembers growing up in the area that he describes as a "melting pot of colours, cultures and religions".

"It was a lively, vibrant place. As kids, we would play on the streets, with wooden scooters and cart wagons. There's nothing like District Six. You can never replicate the tradition, vibe, customs and soul of it," Gool said.

Karen Breytenbach, a spokesperson for the District Six Working Committee has urged all claimants and Capetonians to get involved in commenting on the neighbourhood plan.

"We have this window of opportunity to make District Six a well-designed, community-centric, green and beautiful neighbourhood that everyone can be proud of, "she said.

"We need to dream big and ask, do we want community food gardens. skills training centres, heritage and tourism opportunities, economic hubs and play areas for our children?

"All this is possible if we comment on the plan," said Breytenbach.

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) 25 Oct 2020 BULELWA PAYI


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