Lockdown stalls Pine Road housing project

The vacant Pine Road property in Woodstock.

A social-housing project in Woodstock has been stalled due to lockdown with construction now expected to take place early next year.

SOHCO, a social-housing company, and the City of Cape Town struck a deal last year to develop 243 flats – a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two bedroom units in two- and four-storey blocks – in Pine Road, for families with a monthly income under R15 000.

Heather Maxwell, Sohco’s CEO, said the project had been set to start in the middle of 2020.

“This has been revised to early 2021, mainly on the basis of the impact of Covid-19 on a number of operational areas over the lockdown period,” she said.

The site-development plans had been approved and heritage authorities had given the go-ahead, she said.

“Detail design has been progressed, and 85% of the finance required for the development has been raised, with the balance in progress,” she said.

The site has been vacant since May last year when Pine Road families moved into the R11 million Pickwick transitional housing facility in Salt River, which provides short-term accommodation for the families who lived at the Pine Road site.

Woodstock resident Rob Marshall said the project was of critical importance as it was regenerating the area, not through gentrification but through the creation of social housing.

“Projects like this should be among the highest priority for leadership. However, it appears that high-end revenue-generating projects take the lead and continue unaffected by Covid-19.”

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said that if all went according to plan, preliminary construction could start in mid-January 2021.

“This includes earthworks, fencing, site preparation and piling. Main construction is expected to begin in mid-March 2021.

“We are working with the professional team to ensure that we keep as close as possible to the same completion dates, despite this later start.”

The City’s role in such projects was to provide access to municipal infrastructure and services in approved restructuring zones, he said. The City was dedicated to enabling more affordable housing in well-located areas, he added.

“Social housing projects are owned and managed by accredited social-housing institutions, in this case Sohco,” he said.