Cape Town needs to be transformed

Lara Young, Observatory

Cape Town is a city desperately in need of transformation.

The disproportionately allocated services, the huge economic inequalities, the lack of accessible public open spaces are visible to all.

Take a drive beyond the airport road and go and see what the real Cape Town looks like. It’s not green, it doesn’t have massive houses, swimming pools, well-kept public spaces, parks and recreation facilities.

No, it’s dry, dusty, wind swept and largely poor.

The Cape Flats, as it’s locally known, is where the majority of Cape Town’s residents live.

So affordable housing to breach this economic gap and bring communities into the leafy green suburbs is essential for socio-economic transformation.

The City is not providing services to the flats, it must therefore insist on the suburbs sharing their resources more equitably.

Bringing more people into the city is part of its plan to redress apartheid spatial planning.

To this effect, golf courses and bowling greens, have been identified as potential prime sites for affordable housing.

At some level, the City must agree with this as its earmarked a disused bowling green in Observatory for affordable housing.

However, a massive opportunity to really make an impact on the land available to the City to develop affordable housing has been passed up in favour of privileging the already privileged.

I refer to the City’s decision to renew the Rondebosch Golf Course lease for another 10 years.

Another decade of being locked out of potential transformative development for a more equitable Cape Town.

Of course the leafy southern suburbs will applaud this decision.

But, I urge all of you to think ahead, social justice begins with the ability to see beyond your narrow self-interests and embrace a fair distribution favouring the majority.

At some point, social justice has to happen in this city. Why not start here?

A public participation process will be held and I once again request serious contemplation as to whether the City is perpetuating privilege and maintaining the status quo in this decision or is it part of a transformative plan to radically alter the wealth and accessibility gap in our city?

I know which I think it is.

Dr Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, responds: The viability of certain golf courses can be challenging due to the exorbitant maintenance expenses associated with the extent of the site. This in turn raises the question; can the site footprint of certain golf courses not be reduced?

The City, through the recreation and parks department, is assessing each golf course that is situated on City-owned land according to its individual merits, challenges and future potential.

Some of the options under consideration are to potentially reduce the size of a golf course and incorporate income-generating compatible uses, which may include in-fill housing opportunities. These suggestions are but a few of the options under consideration.

James Vos, mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, responds: The Rondebosch Golf Club, located on 45 99 hectares of City-owned land has been the subject of scrutiny for housing opportunities.

The property is zoned community facility use and public open space.

But zoning aside, the reality is that approximately half of the land (23.2 ha) is below the 1:50 year flood line, which creates limitations in terms of the development of the property and lease potential.

The golf course was designed to prevent neighbouring properties from flooding.

The access point to the property is situated in the south-east corner of the property, which is approximately
1.5 km from the north-west corner of the property, a considerable distance with no access points in between, which further reduces the area available for development.

This results in access limitations for vehicular access and public transport, thereby reducing the trip capacity of the site.

Due to these limitations, its current use as a golf course is considered consistent with metropolitan spatial policy.

The lease renewal is under consideration.

The City intends seeking council approval to conduct a public participation process to the proposed granting of a further 10-year lease agreement to the golf club.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit their comments and or objections to the proposed transaction.

The development and occupancy of the site dates back to 1911 and has been formalised by way of a lease agreement which will expire on 31 December 2020.

The historical and current use is a golf course, operated by a registered non-profit organisation.

The site is not required for municipal purposes from a spatial planning perspective.

There are also no apparent conflicts of this application with
the provisions of applicable City’s spatial planning policy, and including the transit oriented development policy.

The key motivating factors of the City’s intent to consider a further 10-year lease agreement are essentially as follows:

The course is situated within a high flood-line/wetland.

Rondebosch Golf Club is at the forefront of the Cape Town golfing community in driving transformation and development in golf. Over 50% of their membership are from the previously disadvantaged groups.

Accessible local parkland and public open space is retained.

Ensuring the continued contribution to employment.

Respecting the heritage of different communities and events.

Attracting a diverse pool of South African talent and creating an institutional culture where all talent can thrive.

The continued existence of the golf club would be of substantial benefit to the local community as it provides a secure gathering point and multi-use facility while ensuring the preservation of a well-maintained, accessible local parkland area and contributes to employment, all at no cost to the City.

The lessee expressed interest to continue leasing the property and would be responsible for maintenance and up-keep to the tune of about R6 million a year.

Future upgrading of the property entails resurfacing the parking lot, replacing the roof of the workshop, replacing the clubhouse’s roof (historical building), repainting of all the buildings, resurfacing the forecourt, upgrading the entrance and lobby area, upgrading the perimeter fence, upgrading security (including possible perimeter lighting).

This transaction will have exceptional cost advantages for the City if you consider the operational burden associated with the golf club.

The golf industry’s national contribution is estimated at
R1.5 billion with the total estimated player contribution for Cape Town clubs estimated at R226 million for 2015 (Source: Weser’s 2015 Analysis) .

Golf clubs also play an important role in the sporting industry such as driving transformation and development within the sport and training programmes for the youth.

The City in partnership with the lease holders, club management and the Western Cape Golf Club Managers’ Association are committed to improving affordability and accessibility and ensuring that the golfing opportunities convert to a meaningful environmental, social, sporting, tourism and economic contribution.

The proposed tariffs for 2020/21 will be submitted to the portfolio committee and the mayoral committee for consideration and recommendation to council.