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Monday Jul 30, 2018

Old Durban drive-in site earmarked for low-cost homes

While the city's plans to build social housing on prime land around Durban were approved by the executive committee, the DA has raised concerns about the land identified on North Beach.

Social housing is planned for this patch of prime land south of Sandile Thusi Road and west of Sylvester Ntuli Road.

The party said the land should rather be used to build commercial properties, which would boost the city's rates base.

The human settlements and infrastructure committee tabled the report before the executive committee this week where it revealed that at least eight sites around the city had been targeted for the social housing projects.

Two of the sites falls undernorth Beach, an area considered a tourism destination and economic asset for the city, according to the DA.

Other sites identified were Albert Park, Greyville and along Umgeni Road.

The committee said that due to ongoing concerns by community members that most open spaces around the city were being invaded, it was in the best interests of the city to secure the land in question for housing development.

The report says the city was advised that Albert Park was currently under-used and as a result was attracting criminal elements, which was why the proposal for mixed-use housing was adopted.

DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said although the DA welcomed the plan it was concerned about the North Beach sites.

"The identified areas at North Beach are incredibly valuable and could boost the city economy if they were sold to private developers for businesses.

"For example, the Victoria Park and Star Seaside Home, a children's home, are in the prime area. They could be used for businesses. I don't think building social houses is a good plan.

"As much as we need houses, the city needs to protect our economic assets and the rates base.

"There have been recent examples where the city took over buildings, sold them and used that money to provide social houses in more suitable sites," she said.

Graham also raised concerns about the city's failure to enforce problem building by-laws to reduce the number of derelict buildings.

The city could have also explored an option to convert its decaying buildings to social houses.

"We have requested an on-site visit and we want the matter to be discussed further by the committee.

"If we have to develop the Golden Mile as a prime tourism destination, I don't think putting in low-cost housing is a good move," she said.

Graham added that social housing was essential for the working class, who spent a lot travelling from the outskirts of the city for work.

She was not advocating the interests of the rich and accused the ANC of creating such a narrative.

"Whether you are poor or rich, if the city does well economically, we all benefit."

Mondli Mthembu, chairperson of the human settlements and infrastructure committee, said the inner city local area plan (LAP), which sought to revitalise the inner city, covered most of the identified sites.

"We want to bring investment back to the inner city, which has moved to the northern and western suburbs.

"This will bring economic development to the city," Mthembu said.

Deputy manager of the human settlements, engineering and transport cluster Beryl Mphakathi said that people were already living in the inner city and it was up to the municipality to formalise this.

"This will be a mixed-use, mixed-income development with economic activity taking place within the social housing.

"Social housing has to exist within the inner city," she said.

City Watch
Sunday Tribune

 
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