Ndifuna Ukwazi raises red flags over plans to rezone CT's Somerset Hospital area

The provincial Transport and Public Works Department has submitted a rezoning application to the municipality for the site which includes the old Helen Bowden Nurses' Home.

FILE: Protesters for affordable housing in Cape Town protest at the Affordable Housing Conference. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Civil organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi has raised red flags around plans to rezone and redevelop Cape Town's Somerset Hospital precinct near the V&A Waterfront.

The provincial Transport and Public Works Department has submitted a rezoning application to the municipality for the site which includes the old Helen Bowden Nurses' Home.

The provincial government-owned building is presently occupied by dozens of people protesting the dearth of affordable housing for working-class black and coloured people in the inner city.

The affordable housing campaign centred around the Helen Bowden Nurses' Home is directly related to the provincial government's decision to sell the old Tafelberg school site in Sea Point instead of making it available for social housing.

Amid the controversy, the province announced it would release land for redevelopment in the Somerset Hospital Precinct on the basis that "the maximum number of affordable housing units be included" in the plans.

But Ndifuna Ukwazi's Jared Rossouw says the rezoning application mentions just 300 affordable units.

“And what they haven’t done is specify that this will be public housing, this could be available and truly affordable for people who need it. It could very well be just cheaper market-rate housing.”

The plan involves closing the Somerset Hospital and turning the precinct into a mixed-use development with shops, hotels, offices and residential units.

The Provincial Transport and Public Works Department says the rezoning application, which was submitted in September last year, outlines what it proposes to do with the site. But officials say detailed development planning still has to happen.

The department says properties have not been declared surplus and it's not in the process of selling the land.

It's also stressed that the application for rezoning doesn't imply that the hospital is closing.

The area, considered to be the most valuable property the province owns, is around six times larger than the Tafelberg site.