Housing plan for Parow

The vacant police barracks behind Parow SAPS is one of the sites identified for social housing by the City of Cape Town.

Vacant City land in Parow and surrounds will be used to build social-housing flats for thousands of families, according to a plan outlined last week.

The sites, some with derelict buildings on them, are near the Parow, Tygerberg, Elsies River and Avondale railway-station precincts, according to Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development.

The plan is to develop the sites over time to provide at least 6 000 affordable rental units to families with a monthly income of between R1 500 and R15 000.

The City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) tabled its Parow Precinct Development Plan for the four precincts at meetings of Sub-council 4 and 6 last week. Both sub-councils have given the social-housing plan their support.

Documents before sub-council, recommend building three- and four-storey walk-up blocks of flats with parking and, in some cases, 11-storey buildings with a mix of flats and ground-floor shops, across an area the size of about 10 rugby fields.

But the City says nothing is set in stone as a development plan would still need to be drawn up.

On Friday August 10, Mr Herron visited the area with Sub-council 4 chairman Chris Jordaan, Ward 26 councillor Francesca Walker and Sub-council 6 chairwoman Rose Rau to identify more sites for a future proposal.

“They are excited and optimistic about the impact it could have on Parow and how residents stand to benefit,” Mr Herron said. “I am grateful for the support we have received from the ward councillors.

The sites were either derelict, underused or underdeveloped.

“Given the proximity to the railway stations and the ease of access to public transport services, these sites are considered to be ideally located for the development of affordable rental units.”

Many of the sites were unused parking lots, he said.

Others had run-down City-owned buildings on them that could be converted or demolished.

“Residents of Parow will benefit from this because it will halt the anti-social behaviour, and crime and grime that are associated with these unused sites,” Mr Herron said.

Two City-owned buildings behind the Parow police station in Arnold Wilhelm Street, and which once served as police barracks, are included in the plan.

They are leased to the Department of Public Works and were due to be torn down in May, but the demolition was halted. (“Barracks to be thrown down”, Wednesday March 29).

Mr Herron said “social housing” was an official term for state-subsidised rental units developed by state-accredited non-profit companies.

The Parow precinct – with seven City-owned parking lots between Voortrekker Road and McIntyre Street, near Parow station – would be developed first.

“An estimated 950 units comprising bachelor flats, one-bedroomed flats and two-bedroomed flats could be developed on these sites,” Mr Herron said.

Last year, the Northern News reported on the increase in robberies in and around Parow train station (“Thieves prey on commuters at Parow station,” November 22, 2017).

Ms Rau said the mayor’s urban regeneration programme had already led to many positive developments in Bellville, and she believed the social-housing plan offered similar benefits.

“We are looking forward to the continuation of this journey, which must create opportunities for Cape Town residents to move closer to job opportunities in a vibrant and successful, decentralised city in Parow and Bellville,” she said.

Mr Jordaan said the proposal would be “extremely uplifting” for the community. “It will give people who cannot access a bond to do so. There will also be units for sale,” he said, adding that it would change the lives of people living in backyards.

“I support this initiative, and now the proposal must go out for public participation where we are looking for the support from residents, ratepayers and businesses,” he said.

Mr Herron said the City would soon say when and where public meetings would be held to discuss the social-housing plans for the area.

Chairman of the Parow Park Neighbourhood Watch Willem Bothas welcomed news of the social housing proposal.

“There is a definite shortage of social housing in the city. Hopefully it will help to decrease crime in the area. I also want to urge the City to properly screen the tenants who are placed in these houses. If they don’t obey the rules, they must be removed as there are many poor people struggling to access social housing,” he said.

Parow Community Police Forum chairman Roger Cannon said: “I think the process needs to be thoroughly investigated to ensure the surrounding transport and schooling infrastructure is sufficient.

“The City-owned property also needs to be refurbished so that it fits in with the aesthetic of the area as not to bring down the property valuations,” he said.