“Talking is cheap, we want action,” say golf course housing development organizations


Shamiela and Deon January moved to Lower Mowbray nine months ago.

When a church leader asked them to take care of his property, the family did not hesitate to leave Manenberg.

“This area is green, quiet and has adequate facilities to raise our young children, unlike Cape Flats where we are stuck on top of each other. Other than a recent hold-up or two, that’s for sure. We would be happy to be able to live here permanently, ”said Shamiela.

The King David Mowbray Golf Club has been considered in the city’s 2021 Strategic Development Framework (SDF) project, for possible housing and / or mixed-use development. No concrete plan has yet been published, as the City says it has conducted a feasibility study. FILE Photo: David Ritchie / AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY / ANA

Last week, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said he had instructed the city to free up golf courses for housing.

In June, the city indicated in the draft strategic development plan (SDF) 2021, that it would “plan the future development of housing and / or mixed use” on the King David Mowbray golf club and carry out feasibility studies and prepare for development. of the site, in two to five years.

This week, James Vos, a Mayco member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, said identifying areas with development potential such as the Mowbray Golf Club does not mean their development is imminent.

“Having said that, we are ready to take all points of view into account as part of the statutory public participation process, which has not yet started,” Vos said.

Many residents and businesses in the area refused to speak openly about the prospect of real estate development on the golf course because it was “a political matter”.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said he had instructed the city to free up golf courses for housing development. The King David Mowbray Golf Club has reportedly been sought after by the city for housing development. The golf course is close to Durban Road shopping in Little Mowbray, public transportation and other amenities. PIC: Tracey Adams / African News Agency (ANA)

But less than 500m from the golf course, lives Elizabeth Wood.

“I would be happy to see a housing estate there … anything other than low cost housing will be a big no to me.” We have a lot of expensive homes around here, ”said Woods.

Cape Town has 24 golf courses, 10 of which are on public grounds and 34 bowling greens, 26 of which are on public grounds.

Organizations defending housing and space repair have questioned the timing of the DA’s statement.

Ndifuna Ukwazi’s head of research and advocacy, Michael Clark, said: “Talking is cheap and we know the city made similar promises in 2016 when Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said he there were too many golf courses and it was necessary to rationalize, “public land.”

“Yet in the six years since these promises were made, no golf course or bowling green on public land has been released for affordable housing development,” Clark said.

The Development Action Group (DAG) agreed.

“In view of the historical commitments and the timing of these statements, the statements made by the party can be seen as electoral,” said researcher Querida Saal.

For years, organizations such as Ndifuna Ukwazi and Reclaim the City have advocated for the city to free up well-located public land to address the legacy of space apartheid by developing social and / or affordable housing.

Clark said the city’s own policies stated that it owned 87,000 real estate assets, including land, but continued to lease well-located public land for “the exclusive use of the few at the expense of the few. hundreds of thousands of Capetonians ”who needed housing. .

Next to the King David Mowbray Golf Club is the 45 hectare Rondebosch golf course, whose lease was renewed by the City last October for a period of 10 years, despite 1,827 objections received from civil society organizations, experts in economics and history. , law and land use planning.

At the time, the City said the site, which was located next to the King David Mowbray Golf Club, had development constraints because it was in a high flood line.

However, a study by Ndifuna Ukwazi proposed that more than 1,433 families could be accommodated in the Rondebosch land despite the limitations of the site.

“If the City takes these promises seriously, it should commit to immediately reviewing the leases of all golf courses and boules on public land, refusing to sign other leases on well-located public land without conduct feasibility studies to see if the land can be used for social and / or affordable housing, and urgently prioritize the release of well-located public land for the delivery of social and / or affordable housing ”, Clark said.

Saal also noted: “In April 2016, incidentally also during an election year, the CoCT reported that it was consolidating golf courses located on public land, across the city. At the time, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said some streamlining in terms of golf courses was needed and that CoCT needed to look at its options from a longer term perspective. However, five years later, little progress has been made. “

However, she said the organization hoped the party was “really serious” about implementing the commitments they were making now.

Saal said a political party’s ideological beliefs played a key role in guiding implementation at the local or municipal level.

“The orientation of the political party at the head of the municipality sets the tone for the type of development that takes place, where and how it takes place and whether land is sold for profit or used for transformative development purposes. And this applies to any political party elected to power through elections. This is important because local government officials implement the mandate based on the party that came to power or the promises made by the ruling party during the election season. It would be almost impossible for the authorities to implement a policy to free some of these golf courses for affordable housing when the political party at the head of this municipality does not favor such an approach, ”she said. .

For two Mowbray businessmen who declined to be identified, the development would mark a “new era”, which they would welcome.

“Golf courses seem to have declining membership. The City has to allocate land because there are more and more people and golf courses are a good place to do it, ”said one businessman.

However, he was skeptical of the cost.

“If you think anyone could buy a property there, you have to think twice because it will cost millions of rand,” he said.

Saal said it was possible that some of the golf courses, which “are public goods”, could be transformed into affordable, integrated and inclusive human settlements.

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