Properties withdrawn from public auction

Goodwood residents have won a reprieve against City of Cape Town plans to sell land the community has used as parks for many years.

A group calling themselves the Concerned Goodwood Neighbourhood has welcomed the City’s decision to pull the plots of municipal land from a public auction today Wednesday April 19 (“City alienates residents with land sale”, Northern News, March 29).

They include public open space around Wiener, Paarl and De Villiers streets, Goodwood, and a City-owned parking lot at the bottom of Hamilton Street.

In an email to residents on Thursday April 13, Stuart Diamond, the mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said nine properties in Goodwood had been withdrawn from the auction for “further technical review”.

Resident Salie Behardien welcomed the announcement, calling it “positive for the community”. He said the City should not do things “willy nilly” but listen to residents.

“The level we had to go through to get them to respond…”

He said they would “wait and see what happens next”.

In earlier correspondence with residents, Mr Diamond said the properties were “surplus and not required for municipal services”.

Residents had fought the sale of six public-open-space-zoned plots around Wiener Street, Goodwood, saying development there would rob them of recreational space, spawn more traffic and overburden infrastructure.

In an email to Mr Diamond, resident Zureena Behardien said they understood the need for densification, but questioned why the City was selling land used by residents, instead of an open space next to 155 Wiener Street.

“This is not fair process. We demand that the sale be stopped,” Ms Behardien wrote.

Mr Diamond’s emailed reply to residents stated that no decision had been taken on the future development of the land. He said Cape Town’s rapid growth demanded the City address urbanisation.

“The City of Cape Town has large tracts of public open spaces that exist within neighbourhoods, and we are looking at rationalising these open spaces. The development of these properties will create living spaces and active (recreational) edges with the remaining public open spaces. This will help to improve community surveillance and safety. It is a fact that Cape Town is one of the fastest growing cities in South Africa, and this means that we also have to address urbanisation,” he said.

He repeated the City’s earlier assertion that it had wanted to sell 21 plots, but had settled on only six after considering residents’ comments.

But the Concerned Goodwood Neighbourhood, argued Mr Diamond’s response was “out of touch with the community or have been misinformed”.

“We, the community, find it strange that you mention you want to achieve your ‘objectives together with the community’, but then exclude the very community from the very important task of plot allocation for disposal. Simply put you’re selling the wrong six plots,” they replied.

They had asked for the auction to be cancelled and a community meeting to be held to discuss alternatives.

“Your response to this reasonable community request determines your future support relationship with this community,” it said.

The parking lot at the bottom of Hamilton Street, Goodwood, had also been due to go under the auctioneer’s gavel, along with 126 Alexander Street, Parow, zoned for utility, and 13, 15 and 25 Mark Street, Avondale, zoned general business.