Plans to turn hospital into housing

Brett Herron.

The City of Cape Town plans to turn the Woodstock Day Hospital site into one of six social housing projects, offering affordable inner-city housing to thousands.

Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works spokesman Byron la Hoe confirmed the City had applied to the department to use the site for housing, and the application had the backing of the provincial Department of Human Settlements.

The nurses-home section of the hospital site, meanwhile, had been earmarked as the new head office of Cape Nature, he said.

The Woodstock Hospital is set to join the Robbie Nurock Community Health Clinic at the new District Six Community Health Centre. The R104m project is set to be completed in April.

The City, however, was reluctant to go into detail about its plans, although it confirmed that it is eyeing six sites in Salt River and Woodstock for social housing projects.

“The future use and development of the Woodstock Hospital site has not yet been decided. The City will make announcements about the specific sites and projects as the project planning matures,” said Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development.

The new social housing projects would cater for those earning between R1 500 and R7 500.

Mr Herron said the City had agreements with three non-profit organisations that would allocate and deliver the social housing units.

“The exact number of housing opportunities to be provided at each site will be known once the planning processes have been concluded, safe to say the current estimate is 3000,” he said.

People would be able to apply once construction had started, he said.

There are social housing units available in Steenberg, Brooklyn, Bothasig and Scottsdene, with another development currently being built in Belhar, which is to be made available later this year, and the six developments for Woodstock and Salt River would join the current programme.

“There are a number of social housing projects in the pipeline… and that should come to fruition in the coming months and years,” Mr Herron said.

Residents, meanwhile, told the Tatler they hoped the hospital site would be put to good use as it had offered a health-care lifeline to Woodstock and Salt River over the years.

Salt River resident Ebrahim Lewis used to visit the hospital frequently for his medication. He’s happy that he would now be attending the District Six hospital.

“It’s always positive to replace the old with the new and it can only benefit us as patients. The exact same thing must happen to the hospital, it served a lot of people over the years and now they must replace it with something that can also be of such great service to our people,” he said.

When asked what he thought of a social housing project, he said: “As long as the City is not planning on building a slum, where they plan to dump thousands of people and eventually it becomes a major problem. We have seen it happening all over – it all starts positive and then in the blink of an eye, the building is declared a problem.”

Asma Gasant was also relieved to be moving to the new hospital and said she would welcome a social housing development in the area.

“It’s time for a change and change is always good. As long as the City do not allow these fancy developers to come in and put up some monstrosity, everything will be fine. There are people would need affordable housing. There are people desperate out there, and if the Woodstock hospital can offer a space to help these people, then why not.”

She said her 32-year-old daughter, who has three children, was among those desperate for affordable housing in the city.