New Garden City taking shape in Fisantekraal

KAREN PRETORIUS

It’s been eight years in the making and has many years of development ahead, but the Greenville Garden City in Fisantekraal plans to have the first 50 homes ready for occupation this month.

The project is a first for private developer Garden Cities – as it has never built houses in the social housing and Breaking New Ground (BNG) sector in its 95-year history. Garden Cities, known for developing suburbs such as Edgemead, Pinelands and Sunningdale, plans to build 16 000 houses, schools, community and transport facilities in a project that is expected to take between 15 to 20 years to complete.

This is a joint development between the company, the City of Cape Town and the provincial government.

The development on 767 hectares will have four main categories: BNG housing, social housing, gap housing and plots for bonded housing.

The gap housing market comprises people who earn between R3 500 and R15 000 a month, which is too little to buy a house, yet too much to qualify for a state subsidy.

The first phase of Greenville will focus on housing for lower-income residents. Garden Cities says 2 800 BNG units, to be built in phase one, will cost R382 million over the next three years.

The developer gets R180 000 subsidy from the City for each unit.

Garden Cities CEO John Matthews says the project is a pioneering one, as it’s the first time BNG houses are being built on private land, something which needed special permission from the Minister of Human Settlements.

“There was a set of parameters from national government and a set of parameters from the City, we had to deal with,” said Mr Matthews.

The development has had its fair share of trouble, including disruptions at the site by residents in Fisantekraal who were unhappy with the design.

Garden Cities went to court in June last year, when an interim order was granted to prevent disruptions.

This order was made final in August. A project steering committee (PSC) had subsequently been elected to liaise with the community. “If you have grievances, take it to the PSC to discuss the unhappiness,” Mr Matthews said.

The company said it wanted Greenville to look like a garden city.

“We’re not going there to create another Delft. The development will have sidewalks; parks which we hope the community will take care of. We’re creating a suburb people can be proud of, “ Mr Matthews said.

So far, 600 beneficiaries have been approved. In early February, 169 foundations had been cast and the plan was to complete the first 50 houses in March, said Mr Matthews.

Benedicta van Minnen, Mayco member for human settlements, said her department and the provincial government had jointly ploughed R294 million into the project.

The City and the provincial government fund the bulk infrastructure (roads, stormwater, water supply, sewers, street lighting) and top structures.

Ms Van Minnen said beneficiaries for Greenville would be drawn in accordance with the City’s allocation policy.

In terms of this policy, qualifying applicants are chosen according to their date of application on the housing database.

The policy also states that:

* Up to 90% of beneficiaries must come from applicants already registered, and 10% from households not registered on the housing database;

* The 10% would be registered on the database on identification, and in this category the qualifying criteria include people aged 80 years and older; proven military veterans; those living in informal settlements not suitable for housing development, such as wetlands; and people within and outside of the targeted area, with evidence of their length of stay.