Plans for community hub at derelict Salt River site

Ward councillor Yusuf Mohamed, middle, at the Fenton Road plot with the Salt River Heritage Society’s Nadia Agherdine and Anwar Omar.

The Salt River Heritage Society plans to build a community hub on a derelict plot it holds the lease on.

The society secured the lease from the land’s trustees three months ago.

“This plot has been derelict for over two decades, and we had a lengthy interaction with the trustees to explain what our objectives were, and we managed to sign the lease agreement,” said Anwar Omar, the society’s vice-chairman.

The society won’t pay rent but will take sole responsibility for the upkeep of the Fenton Road plot, which is the size of a football field.

Building a community hub there would change how residents viewed the area, said Dr Yusuf Lalkhen, the society’s chairman.

“We want to create entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses,” he said.

The hub would be a place for markets, arts and crafts, music, poetry and other community events, and murals would be painted on the surrounding walls to reflect the area’s history, he said. And supplying the hub with electricity and wi-fi would benefit surrounding schools.

Earth-moving equipment started clearing the site last Friday.

A R25 000 donation from the Salt River-based online university, 2U, funded the work, Mr Omar said, adding that the society planned to tar the site and place shipping containers there.

He appealed to the municipality and ward councillor Yusuf Mohamed to support the project.

“The time and effort being invested into a once-derelict parcel of land to improve the community by the Salt River Heritage Society or any community-based organisation is something I would support,” Mr Mohamed said.

Mr Omar said he hoped the City would help with the cost of tarring the site and send its mobile libraries to the hub once it opened.

“This is a community project, and the City should have a budget where they can see a project like this is a definite benefit to the community,” he said.

However, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said the City could not develop or fund improvements on land that was privately owned.

“Any development intended for this property must be undertaken by the owners,” he said.

The heritage society is seeking support from private donors and businesses for the project, which it plans to complete by the end of February.

WhatsApp the the society’s committee member Nadia Agherdine at 072 676 3520 for more information.

A backhoe loader clears rubbish and rubble from the derelict plot in Salt River where there are plans for a community hub.