Cape Town’s largest inner city social housing project gets heritage greenlight

Issued by –
02 Aug 2023 in News

The City of Cape Town has secured heritage approval for its biggest inner city social housing development of around 700 units at Woodstock Hospital.

Heritage approval is a critical milestone towards design and submission of building plans for the former Woodstock Hospital, Cape Town’s largest inner city social housing project totalling some 700 units.

This follows tenanting commencing earlier this year at the City’s well-located 204-unit Maitland Mews social housing development in that inner city feeder suburb.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said heritage approval for social housing at Woodstock Hospital is ‘welcome progress towards our goal of faster affordable housing land release in well-located parts of the City’.

‘Five inner city land parcels totalling over 1 300 social housing units reached critical land release milestones in the first year of our priority programme, and we are aiming for several more by the end of 2023. We also passed guidelines for the discounting of public land to maximise affordable housing units on the land we release and ensure project viability.

‘Landing well-located affordable housing is a complex undertaking that finds itself between several fires: inadequate national subsidies; the unlawful occupation of project sites; and the obstacle of Cape Town’s largest, best-located properties being under national government ownership.

‘We were encouraged by the National Human Settlements Minister recently announcing raised subsidies for social housing, but this was never gazetted.

‘The Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), which administers national subsidies, does not have the budget to support the social housing sector at scale. This is impacting social housing companies who are struggling to complete the construction of viable projects once the City has released land to them.

‘Raised subsidies, and concrete commitments to releasing the national mega-properties, will go a long way to massively scaling up social housing rollout in Cape Town,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

In the first year of the Mayoral Priority Programme for affordable housing land release, several sites received critical City Council land release approvals, including:

  • Newmarket Street (Cape Town) – 200 social housing units
  • Salt River Market (Salt River) – 215 social housing units
  • Pickwick (Salt River) – 600 social housing units
  • Fruit and Veg (CBD) – 180 social housing units
  • Earl Street (Woodstock) – 160 social housing units

‘Besides the land released over the last year, the City has further enabled 130 social housing units in the inner city feeder suburb of Pinelands for Phase one of the Western Cape Government’s Conradie Park development, with support also being provided to the Province’s Founder’s Garden precinct in the CBD.

‘Along with the Voortrekker corridor, construction is ongoing at the City’s 1055-unit Goodwood Station development, while 434 units have been completed at the Bothasig Gardens development.

‘Overall, the City has 6 500 social housing units in the planning pipeline across 50 land parcels City-wide,’ said Alderman James Vos, acting Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements.

Building hi-jacking main obstacle at Woodstock Hospital

Both the Woodstock Hospital property – and the provincially owned Helen Bowden Nurses Home – were subject to orchestrated building hi-jackings by Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Reclaim the City campaign in early 2017, following government’s announcement of plans to develop social housing there.

The building hi-jacking was followed by subsequent calls for financial contributions to “sustain and build” the illegal occupation.

In October 2018, the Western Cape High Court granted an order interdicting and restraining Reclaim the City from “inciting persons to enter or be upon the property for the purpose of unlawfully occupying or invading”.

‘The Woodstock Hospital property has favourable zoning and rights for social housing development. With heritage approval secured, the main obstacle is now the ongoing unlawful occupation of the property.

‘The City is determined to proceed with the planning and development of social housing, as well as taking engagements forward with unlawful occupants to unlock social housing development in the shortest possible time.

‘There are now pending eviction proceedings following the Western Cape High Court granting the City an order to survey the number and individual circumstances of occupants,’ said Alderman Vos.