Proposed Foreshore development compared to apartheid

Suspended City official slammed affordable housing plan

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Graphic of tower blocks
The affordable housing component of the proposed Foreshore development has come under attack. Graphic captured from Youtube video

The affordable housing proposal in the qualifying bid for the multi-billion rand development of Cape Town’s Foreshore reproduces apartheid spatial planning, according to the City’s Transport and Urban Development (TDA) commissioner Melissa Whitehead

This was one of the reasons why Whitehead, who was on the initial Bid Evaluation Committee, was adamantly opposed to the development, she claims. Whitehead has since been suspended.

Her position is contained in her report to a special confidential council meeting on 5 December, setting out why she should not be placed on precautionary suspension following accusations of mismanagement and abuse of power by executive director in the directorate of the mayor, Craig Kesson, and former director of urban catalytic investments Frank Cumming.

The qualifying proposal by Mitchell Du Plessis and Associates (MDA) contains plans for 11 tower blocks along Nelson Mandela Boulevard, with 3,200 market-related units. Ten buildings clustered at the northern-most edge of the Foreshore, beneath the freeways and hard-up against the docks, are proposed for the provision of 450 affordable housing units.

Whitehead states that an MDA representative, questioned on the affordable housing during a presentation to the committee, replied: “There are many people all over the world who live in ghettos under highways. Is it not better to live in a ghetto under the highway than to live in Khayelitsha?”

This, states Whitehead, was “forwarding the principles of apartheid” and she would “go all the way to the Constitutional Court” to oppose it.

She says in her report that she favoured Proposal B, which suggested a gigantic circular building at the Foreshore which would dwarf all other urban structures. Proposal B is believed to have been submitted by Urban Dynamics, a design consortium.

The other four bids did not meet the criteria, Whitehead said.

Following a report on the process compiled by consulting firm Moore Stephens presented to City Manager Achmat Ebrahim on 31 August, and a grievance lodged against Whitehead by Cumming, Ebrahim dissolved the Bid Evaluation Committee and set up a new one.

In the resultant furore, Mayor Patricia de Lille told Kesson to make the Moore Stephens report “go away”, according to an affidavit filed by Kesson which makes serious allegations against Whitehead, Ebrahim and De Lille.

In the Moore Stephens report and in a grievance filed by Cumming, Whitehead is accused of political interference in the bid evaluation process. According to Kesson’s affidavit, Cumming said she “regularly expressed concern regarding the ‘political acceptability’ of the location of the affordable housing”.

This, Cumming states, eroded the integrity of the bid evaluation process which was supposed to focus only on the technical aspects of the bids.

Whitehead counters that her statements about political acceptability were taken out of context.

In the fallout from the Moore Stephens report, Kesson’s affidavit and Cumming’s grievance, among others, Whitehead has been suspended, Ebrahim resigned on the day he was due to put forward his reasons for not being suspended, de Lille faced a motion of no confidence (which she survived by one vote), and Cumming was dismissed.

The chair of the Bid Evaluation Committee, Paul Vink, declined to supply the names of the original committee or the new committee members, as he said the bid process was still in process. But the members of the initial committee are named in Whitehead’s report.

They were: Whitehead; Cumming; Marais; TDA investment specialist Tony Viera; and Maureen Whare and Belinda Khun from the City’s Supply Chain Management.

Asked if he found the location of affordable housing in the qualifying bid acceptable, Mayco Member for Transport and Urban Development, Brett Herron, said he could not comment on the merits of the proposal until the supply chain management process had been finalised.

“At this stage all I can say is that I was thrilled by the number and diversity of proposals we received. This showed that the market has a big interest in partnering with the City in this way, and it also demonstrates that private developer contributions to public infrastructure and services can be viable,” said Herron.

In an initial press release announcing the qualifying bidder, Herron stated he was “proud and excited to be part of this endeavour”. He also said that reversing the legacy of apartheid spatial planning was “a key priority of this government”.

Produced by West Cape News for GroundUp

TOPICS:  Cape Town foreshore development

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

This design is bad and outdated. It will further cut off the city centre from the Foreshore. It is very unclear why this design was chosen. We need a design with views of the harbour for the public, enhanced with modern public transport.

Dear Editor

How can any committee allow this kind of building in a City like Cape Town which relies on tourism to be built with full knowledge of cutting off the view to the Harbor. There are health issues to be considered by building living space on smog filled highways where millions of cars pass by everyday. There are no plans as to how transport or parking space will be regulated.

Where will the children of this concrete jungle be going to school? This should not be allowed.

Dear Editor

MDA’s proposal is the most non-compliant scheme of them all and cannot be allowed to go ahead. The design concept is outdated for many reasons but most importantly does nothing to reverse the legacy of apartheid spatial planning which, as stated by Herron, is “a key priority of this government”.

Unfortunately, as a resident of Bo-Kaap, I can only attest to the opposite. In my neighbourhood the DA run city is favouring the interests of private developers over those of the community. The resulting gentrification makes living here more and more unaffordable for middle and working-class families. It’s just another form of apartheid.

As a consequence, the little cultural and social heritage that survived apartheid, will be lost forever under the DA’s watch.

Dear Editor

Hi Brett,

Today I was made aware of this development. With the greatest of respect I am going to speak from the heart. Am so utterly, to my gut, disgusted that the DA could support this type of City Destroying UAE style Rubble.

As a citizen of the Cape ... It blocks our city from the sea. "Hoerikwaggo" the city described as the "mountain in the sea" by its earliest inhabitants.

It is a barrage to all arriving from the sea, or looking at the sea - not an invitation to our unique city. It speaks to old car cultures, not modern new age transport solutions. It speaks to a vision of a city where people, place, social integration is severed from heritage, history or future.

It shouts that the DA is bankrupt in terms of any vision that corresponds to world class futures. It is pollution and must be stopped. I am disgusted.

Dear Editor

I am of the opinion that a high-rise development for the Cape Town foreshore would be very inappropriate, as Cape Town is very windy and it could be distressing for the occupants in the higher floors of towering blocks.

We need wholesome living for residents, affordable housing for the low-income earners, with business and leisure activities as well. Blocks of up to five to six floors would be much more attractive. Cape Town is a beautiful city, with Table Mountain considered one of the Natural wonders of the world. It would be wonderful to include the sea in the spatial design, as the sea is inspirational, a promenade would give the city dwellers a place to relax and exercise. The beauty of the city should be viewed from any direction without the views being blocked by enormous, unwieldy structures.

Completing freeways, that have been abandoned is not the way forward. Rather improve public transport. Perhaps even introduce trams for the centre of town.

Hopefully, there will be open and honest discussion as to the best options for the Cape Town Foreshore and not a shady, corrupt deal signed already.


Dear Editor

The design is an incredible eyesore. It would create a glaring divide between the glorious bay and the attractive city. The city consists of largely traditional architecture.designs. The proposed development will be an unsightly chain of modern buildings. The high density occupation will result in huge strain on the already inadequate transport facilities.

These structures will fragment the city, and be an even greater eyesore than the three "toilet rolls" on the slopes of Table Mountain.

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