MEDIA RELEASE: Where Is The Inclusionary Housing Policy For Cape Town?

Contact: Aditya Kumar, DAG Phone: 021 448 7886 WHERE IS THE INCLUSIONARY HOUSING POLICY FOR CAPE TOWN? The approval of 28 inclusionary housing units in a Sea Point development by the Boeman Brothers is indeed a historic moment. The decision of the Municipal Planning Tribunal is welcomed by the Development Action Group and clearly outlines a way to address housing rights of poor and working-class citizens. The logic behind the Planning Tribunal’s decision cannot be stated more simply. The decision has effectively confirmed that- additional development rights are a public good. Municipalities are merely custodians of these rights, under the parameters of the law. The City has a legal obligation to address housing rights through its developmental processes. This decision is clearly a good example of how to align with current legal provisions, in particular, the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) development principles on spatial planning, land development and land use management. It is important to note that this is not the first instance where the City or any other metro has stipulated conditions for approving development applications. The FNB portside building planning application was approved through the negotiation process that resulted in a planning condition that included a social contribution in the form of developing the Thembakwezi site in Khayelitsha. For months’ private developers, civic associations and activists have been asking the City for clarity and guidance on the requirements for inclusionary housing condition expected from private development projects, especially when they request additional development rights.  The Planning Tribunal’s decision sets precedent likely to influence similar planning applications in the near future. However, the policymakers need to complement the ongoing negotiated processes by introducing a detailed policy and guidelines as a matter of urgency. This will provide certainty to the development industry and also ensure that the ongoing negotiated decisions are not left to chance. The ultimate inclusionary policy needs not only to be limited to an incentive-based approach to inclusionary housing (i.e. conditioning inclusionary housing solely based on additional development rights requested by private sector developers). Instead, a mandatory based approach to inclusionary housing should be the norm. This can be facilitated by policy provisions that expressly define the scope and nature of social obligations expected from current development rights. Such an important intervention is needed if the City is serious about the need to effectively enable access to secure tenure by disadvantaged households and communities. Whilst the Development Action Group has provided extensive technical knowledge and support to the inclusionary housing policy process, it is now time for the politicians to champion this urgently. It is not good for the city to have a development industry that operates in an environment with highly uncertain policy direction. This uncertainty is damaging to both the private development sector and the City’s legal obligation to promote and stimulate effective and equitable functioning of land markets. Dear City of Cape Town – your citizens are looking up to you to act now and demonstrate your leadership role in providing clarity and certainty by developing the inclusionary housing policy urgently!

Established in 1986, the Development Action Group (DAG) is a leading non-profit, non-governmental organisation. DAG’s mission is to create, implement and support community-centred developments in order to address economic, social and spatial inequalities. DAG has been at the forefront of urban development initiatives for more than 30 years.  

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