Concerns raised about temporary housing site

Building materials are stacked on the triangle TRA.

While victims of last year’s fire have now been resettled on the Disa and Depot temporary relocation areas (TRAs) in Imizamo Yethu, the highly-contentious one above the graveyard on Hout Bay Road has yet to receive its first residents.

While there has been ongoing construction at the site, with the ground now levelled, trenches dug and building materials for retaining walls as well as pipes prevalent, none of the expected 200 households have been resettled there.

However, Brett Herron, the City’s transport and urban development head, said this week the decision to declare the land, Erf 1459, an emergency housing site would be published in the Provincial Gazette “not later than Friday 26 January (today), if all goes as planned”.

The City confirmed the so-called “triangle” site would be used for emergency housing in November last year.

Residents in the neighbouring suburbs of Hughenden, Meadows and Riverside Terrace have raised several concerns about the site, including, they say, that there is only one formal way in and out of Hughenden Road and there are a number of health risks on the land.

Some of these residents accepted the use of the site, on condition that it not be used for longer than a maximum of 180 days in accordance with the by-law for municipal disasters.

They also met with provincial and City officials as well as community stakeholders to discuss the feasibility of establishing an education centre once the TRA has served its purpose.

Mr Herron confirmed that proposal was still being explored.

“I met with the local ratepayer representatives last year, and we discussed the proposal to use the site for an ECD (early childhood development) centre after this temporary use is concluded.

“I have indicated my support for this progressive initiative that the local ratepayers are proposing. We have received their proposed agreement, and this is being considered by City attorneys. I hope to see the proposal concluded soon,” Mr Herron said.

“I have also requested our officials to undertake a needs analysis of the social services required in the area to ensure that we commit to a social service option that is most appropriate and suited to the needs of the neighbourhood.

“We are awaiting the results of this study, as well as a firm indication from the informal settlements department as to the period that the site will be used for emergency housing.”

Pieter Wesselink, chairman of the Hout Bay Ratepayers’ Association (HBRA), said that after a meeting with ward councillor Roberto Quintas and Mr Herron, the mayor’s office supported an agreement on the use of the cemetery site after the prescribed TRA period.

“We are in support of the superblocking process and use of the erf zoned public open space for temporary use by registered fire victims. The HBRA looks forward to the prospect of a community-serving entity,” he said.

“We have been in numerous meetings and hope to keep the good relationship with the City going. The whole of Hout Bay must benefit.”

Xanthea Limberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, said residents from the Road 1 area would be settled on the site. However, that would only be after a court case involving Road 1 residents opposed to the manner in which the City had gone about its superblocking process had been settled.

These residents say they were not properly consulted by the City about the process. Ms Limberg said the building materials seen by the Sentinel were retaining blocks, which would be used for the construction of the retaining walls on site. “The trenches are for the installation of water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure,” she said.