Parks to make way for housing development

The City Council has recommended a housing development for middle-income community members.
The development will involve parks in Van der Hoff Park, Baillie Park, Mieder Park and Dassierand.
Kgotso Khumalo, the executive mayor, says this will accommodate people like teachers, nurses, taxi drivers, members of the SAPS and the SANDF and others who desire family homes.
He says housing space was last created for middle-income groups in 1996.
Parks are havens for criminals
‘The parks and open spaces have become criminal havens and neglected places, so it makes sense to develop houses in these spaces for decent accommodation for black and white middle-income earners. It is also a great opportunity for the municipality to make money,’ said Khumalo.
Johan Zerwick of the DA, David Kham of the independents, the EFF councillors and the ANC councillors all supported the decision.
Freedom Front Plus opposes development
The Freedom Front Plus does not support the development. They argued that those communities who will be affected by housing developments near them should be given the opportunity to participate in the process.
Parks are important to maintain our green city status
According to FF Plus councillor, Fanie Du Toit, the FF Plus is against the leasing, selling and rezoning of parks. He said parks are important to maintain our green city status.
The FF Plus requested the matter be referred back for due processes according to the Spatial Development Act.
‘No public participation has taken place up to now, no notice of “Intent to close park” has been advertised or issued,’ he stressed.
Du Toit argued that Van der Hoff Park, Baillie Park and Mieder Park are well-established suburbs, planned with infrastructure that is only able to handle the water, electricity and sewage of the areas as they are now.
He further stated that medium-cost housing might impact negatively on the current house prices in these areas. Khumalo, however, challenged the stance that houses in those areas would lose their value because of the development.

‘Sandton is next to Alexandra, and the prices of houses in Sandton have not dropped,’ he said.

Du Toit said the FF Plus is of the opinion that the rezoning of parks is politically driven.
DA committed to development according to legislation
Chris Landsberg, DA Caucus leader, said: ‘We are committed to development according to legislation and within all prescribed frameworks. This means there are prescribed processes to literally close down parks, rezone them and subdivide the land–we will play our oversight role as opposition and ensure that this is followed and adhered to.’
Landsberg says there should also be a balance between green open spaces and housing, as the DA previously noted on the record.
‘The council should be able to have the capacity to deliver much-needed services, to upgrade and replace infrastructure and create economic benefits for all new property owners as well as existing owners,’ he said.
He added that the DA Ward Councillors are actively following the issue and will ensure that residents in their respective wards are aware of public participation processes on the issue.
‘We support development and job creation if done within the applicable legislative frameworks.’
Potch-Tlokwe Business Chamber reacts to the decision to rezone parks
The chairperson of the Potch-Tlokwe Business Chamber, Bennie Groenewald, says the chamber is of the opinion that green areas and parks are public property and that especially people who live or own property next to it should, as with any other rezoning, have the opportunity to give their input. ‘That can be done to follow the correct process according to the Act on Spatial Planning and Land Management,’ he said.
According to Groenewald, the chamber is always concerned about business interests and investment possibilities and rezoning should only be done if the correct procedures and acts were followed.

 

  AUTHOR
Selogile Leshage
Journalist

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