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OPINION: Celebrate wins in property development, construction sector

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Deon Van Zyl, Western Cape Property Developers Forum chairperson celebrates the wins in tough times:

“We all know the property development and construction sector was in dire straits even before the lockdown began, and for the past two years the WCPDF – along with its member organisations – has been chipping away at the obstacles that are impeding us.
“We must remember there have been wins along the way. For one, the setting up of the Western Cape Government’s Economic War Room, with our sector included and which we hope will soon be able to cut through much of the red tape that strangles both public and private projects.

“A second: the recent announcement by Thoko Didiza, the national Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development granting an exemption to enable Western Cape municipalities to amend their own SPLUMA planning bylaws and permit the extension of development rights from five to 10 years. We hope local municipalities will soon act on this.
“We should also remember, in the words of Albert Einstein, that: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” Adversity often creates solutions, including those in which the industry itself is finally coming together at a national level.
The first initiative was The Property Industry Group – an amalgamation of SA Property Owners Association, the SA REIT Association and the SA Council of Shopping Centres –  announcing an industry wide assistance and relief package for retail tenants hardest hit by the lockdown.

Among the qualifications for the benefits are an undertaking by retail tenants not to retrench staff during the relief period as well as stipulations around the minimum relief and assistance that landlords must allow.

We urge landlords and tenants to be clear in their communications around the relief package so that all parties are in full understanding and agreement around the measures to be taken.
But perhaps the most heartening initiative to date for the sector as a whole is the formation of the Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team with participation from key industry bodies across the country and including the WCPDF, to look at the recovery of the industry post the lockdown. 

We also applaud the initiatives taken by entities such as Wesgro – another organisation represented on the WCPDF’s Management Committee and which has launched a Covid-19 Content Centre to offer real-time support and advice for business and industry across various sectors.”

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*Deon Van Zyl is the Western Cape Property Developers Forum chairperson


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