The first sod has been turned for the construction of housing opportunities for one of the Helderberg area’s oldest informal settlements. The R161 million Morkel’s Cottage housing project will improve the lives of many senior beneficiaries from local informal settlements, among others.
City of Cape Town contractors will be embarking on the installation of services and road infrastructure shortly, while the construction of the Morkel’s Cottage housing project units is expected to start in April 2017. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by March 2018.
It will deliver 547 opportunities comprising single and semi-detached dwellings and serviced sites. The beneficiaries are primarily residents from the Morkel’s Cottage, Beverly Hills and Dark City informal settlements and other beneficiaries from Strand who are registered on the City’s housing database.
“Discussions around providing basic services to these residents started in 2000. Unfortunately, the City was not in a position to provide services on private property. The law prohibits a municipality from paying for the provision of services and undertaking upgrades on privately owned land with public money. After protracted negotiations between the City and the owner, the City bought the property in 2004,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen.
The project planning, however, was influenced by various factors, such as the required upgrade of the abutting canal and river and the presence of threatened red data species. This had a major impact on the extent and size of the land that would be suitable for more formalized housing purposes. There were also various land ownership, planning and environmental aspects that had to be finalized before any construction could start.
All of the required approvals were eventually obtained and the contractor could commence with the site preparation for the construction. Among others, the site had to be filled with soil to lift it out of the flood line.
“As the land was not originally earmarked for habitation, many environmental factors had to be resolved before any construction could take place. It has taken many years but the City had to be careful to balance the need for environmental protection and sensitive environmental restoration with the need for housing opportunities, especially considering that some of these residents are senior citizens”.
“A true milestone has been reached with the symbolic sod-turning of this project today, especially as Morkel’s Cottage is one of the oldest informal settlements in the Helderberg area and some residents have lived there for more than 60 years”.
“I thank our City officials for their absolute commitment to this project and for ensuring that we move closer to enabling redress through housing delivery,” said Councillor Van Minnen.