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Salt River Market: A step closer to integrated housing developments

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Cape Town moved a step closer to integrated housing development this week when the City approved the rezoning application at the Salt River Market site.

“The approval of the rezoning paves the way for a ground-breaking mixed-use development at the Salt River Market site. The built form of the landmark Salt River hall will be preserved, acknowledging the history of the site,” said CEO of Communicare Anthea Houston.

Houston added that the surrounding area will, however, be transformed into a safer vibrant public space, providing improved access to the Salt River station and that the new development will integrate social housing with gap housing, recreational areas and economic activity in the form of retail stores and informal trading.

“The City’s approval of the rezoning comes six years after Communicare responded to the City’s bid to develop the Salt River Market site. We’ve invested six years of work in the project because we believe in the vision of a mixed use development which the City articulated for the site in 2013.

“The brief the City gave Communicare then and the development we subsequently proposed, supports the Cape Town Municipal Spatial Development Framework by intensifying residential density and development inside the existing built footprint of the City. This approach allows the local authority to utilise the existing infrastructure in Salt River, reducing pressure on their spending,” said Houston.

The proposed development is also well aligned with the City’s Table Bay District Plan which earmarks the Salt River Market and surrounding area for mixed use development and which has densification along public transport routes, spatial restructuring, integration and mixed-use development as some of its principles.

“All the work is now bearing fruit and set to benefit the residents of Cape Town who deserve decent and affordable housing that is close to public transport and work opportunities.

“It is a small step towards addressing the huge backlog of affordable housing for residents of Cape Town. In our city households with steady incomes, even up to R28 000 per month struggle to buy houses and therefore need to rent. The proposed development will make a difference for everyone,” said Houston

Communicare proposed the following mix of housing units:

Houston said that by going up several storeys, more residential apartments can be built.

“Building more than four storeys is more expensive though, because there are higher engineering standards to make sure the building is safe. This is why social housing is usually excluded from high-rise developments, ” explained Houston.

She said that with the City’s policy of selling land at 10% of market value to its social housing partners, we have been able to cross-subsidise the development and to include 216 social housing units despite the higher unit cost.

“This is a good start and we hope to see the City release more land for integrated mixed-use developments that include social housing. We still have a long way to go as the City council has to finalise a number of processes before the site is handed over to Communicare.”

“I am very excited about this project as it sets a precedent on mixed use developments that integrates marginal communities into the mainstream of our society. It is the first of its kind in the country. The model, and what we learn from it, not only benefits Cape Town but all of South Africa,” said Houston.

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