SA Affordable Housing November - December 2018 // Issue: 73 - Page 23

FEATURES Oh location, location, location What possible solutions are there to this sensitive conundrum given the various and sometimes major challenges to developments? By Benjamin Brits NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2018 A re we going to be able to solve our housing backlog is because of the regular changes that occur in government and what timeframe are we looking at realistically? departments. A typical example is that when there is any The topic of location has been addressed as far back change in management, the new appointee also brings in as the 1980s in South Africa, and historically apartheid their own preferred team to work with and this then extends spatial planning has been the most common denominator the timeframe for any progress, as it takes time to settle and in the results. get things going again. This is clearly not an efficient process Today’s South Africa sees us looking at our challenge of but as soon as we start getting things right these types of affordable housing in a different light. Not only is the changes occur’, I was told. availability of suitably located land a challenge but also the Statistics show that the amount of available land is also infrastructure to support the developments. diminishing at a rapid rate as it falls onto a pool of As we already know infrastructure progress has basically competition for various lifestyle developments or needs of come to a halt over the last year and this has a major impact communities. In some regions, such as Cape Town, suitable on developments in terms of services and access. The rate of land is just not available anymore, further stressing the people moving to cities to seek opportunities has become a situation. When land is eventually earmarked for affordable hot topic over the years, and ways to solve the housing housing, developers then see existing community resistance, backlog going forward. as it potentially devalues their investment and they have to I myself find it particularly odd that after all of these engage in community negotiations. Another totally different years the topic of location has been discussed, that we are story is if the land has been illegally occupied. Developers still searching for the right and appropriate model that is find themselves having to lay out resources and costs to suitable for South Africa given the seriousness of what we re-locate illegal occupants, often resulting in stressful and need to achieve – the delivery of a backlog of houses sometimes violent interactions. Some metros, such as exceeding two million. Here we are still fortunate to have Johannesburg, have embarked on a drive to clean up old vast amounts of land, albeit not as close to economic activity as we would like, but when we compare to countries like Japan has very little ‘space’ that still excels at efficiencies across multiple industries. We have a world of resources, but still solutions are not finding their way to the people of the country. So, why are we struggling with this location beast? Land re-zoning has been tabled a lot and specifically it takes a lot of time. Discussions with some developers conclude that it has taken almost two years, for example, to change the zone from agriculture, commercial or light industry to residential. There is speculation The location of affordable housing developments has been addressed for more than 20 years already. around this but officials believe ‘this 21