Monday, October 22

Innovative pilot projects should be prioritised and fast-tracked

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Publicly-released land for affordable housing should be considered test sites where partnerships are established with a diverse mix of developers and agencies.

Over the next five years, all pilot projects that demonstrate innovation in the inclusionary housing space and deliver affordable housing, or a mix of affordable and open-market housing, should be given priority status and be fast-tracked with expedited planning approvals, says Future Cape Town’s Rashiq Fataar.

Furthermore, publicly-released land for affordable housing should be considered test sites where partnerships are established with a diverse mix of developers and agencies.

However, Fataar says it is not just commitment to the ideal that is needed but also co-operation and collaboration between local government, developers, designers, banks and communities on a regular basis.

“Developers tend to be risk-averse for various reasons, including the unstable political and economic context.

“In Cape Town, few developers have plans to include more diverse income groups in their developments owing to the high cost of the land, a lack of clear incentives, as well as a lack of decisiveness and lack of clarity from the local government about how additional development rights are granted,” says Fataar.

“In essence, there have been no clear terms of engagement with developers, communities and other groups about achieving a certain number of affordable or inclusionary units in a particular time-frame.”

Blok’s Jacques van Embden says, however, that the national and local government have previously suggested that they lack the resources to tackle the country’s housing issues alone, so this possibly makes inclusionary housing development models and incentives for private developers the most viable option.

From a developer’s point of view, Van Embden says some have noted concerns regarding the costs and returns of certain models, as well as other post-development matters such as ensuring the homes remain affordable for current and future owners.

Van Embden says: “The newness of this approach also requires local governments to still adapt their own policies and approval processes to accommodate it, which in some instances does not happen as quickly as needed.

“Inclusionary housing models in which cities provide incentives, such as additional development rights for free or at a low cost, could provide a mutually beneficial compromise for the developers and the municipalities.”

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