This article by Athina May, related to the work of the Integration Syndicate for Southern Suburbs Tatler, first appeared on 26 October 2017.

The spatial layout of Cape Town has not changed much since 1994 and the exclusivity of the City Bowl has received much attention in the media when the Bromwell residents in Woodstock were served eviction notices and offered housing on the outskirts of the city.

The situation brought to the fore the poor factions of the population who are being removed from areas close to the city in favour of development which many remarked are reminiscent of forced removals during apartheid.

And while the City has since come up with a plan to change the spatial layout of the city and create mixed development areas, head of African Centre for Cities (ACC), UCT Professor, Edgar Pieterse, feels that the City’s plan will not bring about change fast enough.

The City proposed to development affordable and inclusionary housing opportunities in the Salt River, Woodstock, and inner-city precinct at 11 different City-owned sites which are less than 5km away from the Cape Town CBD.

The development plans to see 4 000 lower-income households moved to the inner city.

Professor Pieterse said that this plan will only allow us to see progress in the next 20 or so years and it is unclear whether this would fix the injustices of the past.

“We deal with the legacy of the past. Transit orientation development corridors addresses the problem too slowly. This will only take place over a 20 to 30-year horizon to achieve change and it is still unclear if it will fix the injustices of the past. The time is too long and it is not enough.

“It’s also dependent on the real estate market dynamics. The City had a public consultation on the Spatial Development Framework and the Integrated Transport Plan to where change will be prioritised, but it does not tell you how quickly it will happen,” said Professor Pieterse.

Professor Pieterse said that after the fall of apartheid the emphasis was on de-racialising South Africa through policies which has brought about change we have largely enjoyed and take for granted. However, changes in the spatial layout was not emphasised. He said that redistribution of access to basic services is a necessary condition for development, but it is not sufficient to achieve spatial transformation or economic inclusion.

“The municipality needs more than ensuring access to basic services, they need to provide access to affordable land and work opportunities at scale. We have failed as a country to link service delivery, economic empowerment and land reform. We need to figure out how to use available resources and legacy conditions. For example, there are existing parcels of land in most townships and suburbs on school grounds which we can re-imagine for new typologies of development.

“Schools are not used after 4pm, we can bring schools to life and take down the fences to create a mixed used environment with social housing, small service businesses, a community centre for various development activities and adult classes can be taught in the evening.

“Also green spaces in the suburbs can be used to de-racialise the area and create a more mixed class environment in the suburbs. There is ample surplus of green space in the suburbs which the City can’t maintain because we have too many of it. If you make a mixed income development with the top floor as a penthouse floor for the wealthy and the bottom floors for lower income households, it could work,” said Professor Pieterse.

Professor Pieterse said that everyone needs to think differently about housing so that we can establish and stimulate different kinds of real estate models such as mixed income residential stock, which is what we don’t have in the suburbs. He said that this sort of housing will break barriers and gardeners and domestic workers won’t have to travel long distances to commute to work.

“We can’t continue with a suburban mindset, whether we’re rich or poor our mindset has to change. We need to work differently and move around differently, but until we have an example of mixed income residential housing, it will be difficult to make that change,” said Professor Pieterse.

When asked whether any dates have been set for the completion of the inclusionary housing plans by the City, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said it would be impossible to give a date as the project is still in the early stages.

Mr Herron said the City does not believe that the inclusionary housing project will fix the injustices of the past, but it is the beginning of a long-term commitment to addres apartheid spatial planning.

“Apart from creating a fragmented city, apartheid spatial planning was also characterised by little or no investment to stimulate economic activity in these settlements. Inequality is worsened when these investments mostly benefit those who already have access to the free market economy and employment opportunities.

“As much as we welcome the investment, there is an obligation on the City and the private sector to ensure that the inner-city and other central business districts are accessible and affordable to those who are still living on the periphery. This obligation stems from the commitment that is required from all of us to make Cape Town an inclusive and liveable space where there is room for everyone, and where we share equal access to opportunities, regardless of race and income,”said Mr Herron.

Mr Herron said the City is currently doing an audit of City-owned land parcels in Goodwood and Bellville and will confirm locations once potential sites suitable for transitional housing are identified.