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Monday Sep 29, 2014

Cape housing planners 'fail to use city's land'

Cape Town should be putting far more pressure on the government to release public land - such as the undeveloped portions of Wingfield, Culemborg, Ysterplaat and Youngsfield - for much-needed housing.

So says the Human Sciences Research Council's Ivan Turok, who warns that failure to exploit key sites within the core city will only encourage urban sprawl, at great cost, socially and economically.

Turok, the acting executive director of the HSRC's Economic Performance and Development Unit, argues that while integration, densification and consolidation are the key features of contemporary planning, these principles are not being as energetically pursued in Cape Town as they should be.

'For a growing city to be continually spreading laterally is just not sustainable - land and bulk infrastructure is expensive, and it costs people more if they are living further away from job opportunities.

'We need to be consolidating in key sites, and putting more pressure on the government to release open land such as Wingfield, Culemborg, Youngsfield and Ysterplaat, vacant or largely vacant, well-located sites which you could put thousands of houses on.

'We have been talking about it for 20 years, and now it's time to raise the profile of these sites. It is unacceptable for these strategic land parcels to be left idle for years as we continue building on the edge at vast public expense, and accepting the arguments of Transnet or the Defence and Public Works departments that these sites are not available.'

Turok's comments on under-used public land form part of an interview on the turn-around strategies used in the Colombian city of Medellin to overcome deep socio-economic problems.

He believes such strategies can be applied in Cape Town, too.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)


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