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The City of Cape Town has identified several vacant City-owned sites and derelict buildings in Parow that currently attract anti-social behaviour. The City proposes investment in these underutilised sites which will result in the provision of affordable rental units for families with a monthly household income of up to R15 000.

The City-owned sites that have been identified for development are grouped into four sub-precincts, and are broadly speaking located in the vicinity of the railway stations in Parow, Tygerberg, Elsies River, and Avondale.

The sites are either derelict, underused, or undeveloped. Given the proximity to the railway stations and the easy access to public transport services, these sites are considered to be ideally located for the development of affordable rental units (otherwise known as social housing) for families with a monthly household income of between R1 500 and R15 000.

‘Some of these sites are parking lots that are not being used, and others are run-down City-owned buildings that could be converted or demolished. Those who are currently living in the vicinity of these sites will be aware of the crime and anti-social behaviour. By making these sites available for the development of affordable rental units we are tackling many challenges at once. 

‘Local residents from Parow will benefit because it will halt the anti-social behaviour, and crime and grime that are associated with these unused sites; the new investment will halt the further degeneration of the areas surrounding the stations; it will lure investment from the private sector that could regenerate the greater Parow-area; and we could provide households with affordable rental units in complexes that are well-managed and conducive to family life,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.

The City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) presented the proposed Parow Precinct Development Plan, consisting of the four sub-precincts, to Subcouncil 4 on Tuesday, 14 August 2018, and to Subcouncil 6 on Thursday, 16 August 2018. The sub-precincts fall within these Subcouncils and both Subcouncils gave their in-principle support for the proposal during these meetings. Next, the City will submit the proposal to Council for in-principle approval that the City can dispose of the sites and assets. 

Together the four sub-precincts consist of 10,3 hectares. It is estimated that these sites could be developed over time to provide at least 6 000 affordable rental units that are located within walking distance of railway stations and other public transport services, shopping centres, schools, and public services.

Several of these sites will have to be rezoned prior to any development being permitted. The support from the subcouncils to facilitate investment, and improving these derelict sites is the first important step in rejuvenating the area.

‘It is also important to note that Parow is relatively close to the Cape Town central business district (CBD) and located within the Voortrekker Road Corridor Integration Zone (VRCIZ) – one of three integration zones where the City will, during our term of office, spend the bulk of our capital budget on infrastructure aimed to transform Cape Town’s spatial reality.

‘The sites are strategically placed in the Voortrekker Road Corridor between the City’s two most important commercial and jobs hubs – the city centre and Bellville, with good access to other important economic nodes like Maitland, Goodwood and Salt River. We have already seen some renewed private sector interest and investment in Parow which could, in the long-term, displace some of the area’s residents due to rising prices. Thus, we also want to get ahead of this phenomenon, often called “gentrification”, by developing subsidised rental units for qualifying vulnerable households. In so doing we will ensure that as house and rental prices in Parow rise the area will always have some affordable rental homes available, and in perpetuity,’ said Councillor Herron.

International research confirms that where affordable housing is built to a good standard and design in well-located areas, these developments can improve adjacent property values. 

‘On this note I want to add that there are some misconceptions about what social housing is. Social housing is the official term for State-subsidised rental units that are developed and managed by Social Housing Institutions (SHIs). SHIs are private, non-profit companies that are accredited by the National Government to provide social housing. Because the units are subsidised, the SHIs can rent out the units at prices that are affordable to families who earn between R1 500 and R15 000 per month.

‘These developments are modern, and well-built with spaces for children to play. There is strict access control, and tenants have to comply with the SHI’s rules in the same way that body corporate rules apply to those living in private developments. Only families who can afford to pay rent are allowed to move into these units, and tenants have to sign lease agreements.

‘The social housing complexes have a good reputation because they are well-run and well-maintained. They are very popular and the units are high in demand. I want to assure local residents from Parow that they and the area will greatly benefit from these proposed developments,’ said Councillor Herron.

It is proposed that the Parow Station sub-precinct should be developed first. The sub-precinct consists of seven City-owned parking lots that are barely used. The parking lots are located between Voortrekker Road and McIntyre Street, within close proximity to the Parow Station. An estimated 950 affordable rental units could be developed on these sites.

The other sub-precincts will take longer to develop as the City needs to acquire some of the sites that are proposed to form part of the precincts, save to say that the TDA will continue with the conceptual planning while the Parow Station sub-precinct is being developed.

‘I want to state upfront that the City is committed to following a partnership approach where we will be collaborating with all relevant stakeholders, and most importantly, with the people who currently live and work in Parow. This is a long-term commitment, because the developments will be happening over a few years. We will continuously engage with the public and local community so that we can make a success of these precinct developments. We want residents’ input and support because we cannot do this on our own. 

‘Recently, myself and Councillors Franchesca Walker, Chris Jordaan, and Rose Rau from Subcouncils 4 and 6 visited these City-owned sites that we have identified for development. They are excited and optimistic about the impact it could have on Parow and how residents stand to benefit. I am grateful for the support we have received from the councillors,’ said Councillor Herron.

‘Subcouncil 6 has delivered many successes for Bellville through the Mayor’s Urban Regeneration Programme. We are looking forward to the continuation of this journey which must create opportunities for Cape Town’s residents to move closer to job opportunities in a vibrant and successful, decentralised city in Parow and Bellville. This journey must include our communities every step of the way and result in integrated communities and not just housing opportunities,’ said Councillor Rose Rau, Chairperson of Subcouncil 6.

‘In the coming months I will meet with residents and ratepayers’ associations. We will also host public information sessions about the City’s vision for this precinct. I am urging residents to attend these meetings and to tell us what they think,’ said Councillor Herron.

The City will provide more specific information about the venues and dates of the public information sessions, dialogues, workshops and other relevant forums in due course.