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Somerset Hospital precinct plans unveiled

    The City of Cape Town, provincial government and the V&A Waterfront are working together on the project. A decision was made last year to proceed with the rezoning and subdivision applications and the environmental impact assessment, which are still underway.


    The development framework plan includes a balanced land use proposal for the area, incorporating economic, conservation, public health services, and social and urban development objectives, according to Western Cape Provincial Minister of Transport and Public Works, Marius Fransman.


    For planning purposes, the area has been divided into three precincts. The proposals for the first precinct, next to Fort Wynard, include a hotel, or residential accommodation, or both. This would be sold and is expected to raise hundreds of millions of rands, which will be spent on upgrading Somerset Hospital.


    The second precinct includes the original Somerset Hospital, which would be renovated and could be used as private offices or conference facilities.  


    Fransman pointed out the hospital will be retained and upgraded as a "state of the art, technologically advanced regional medical facility" which will have up to 300 beds. His department will assess whether to upgrade the current West Block or build a brand-new facility.


    Lastly, the City Hospital Precinct, which currently houses a backpacker’s hostel and laboratories, will incorporate institutional facilities and residential units, with ground-floor retail outlets facing onto the proposed Granger Bay boulevard.


    Fransman said his department had also committed R15-million to the plans for the boulevard, which will link the Waterfront to the Green Point traffic circle and planned World Cup soccer stadium. Although these proposals are separate to the 2010 Soccer World Cup plans, they overlap in terms of public transport and the availability of Somerset Hospital for the tournament.


    The residential units in the City Hospital Precinct would measure between 45m² and 110m², and will target low-income groups, such as hospital workers and black professionals working in the city.


    "The intention is to provide a sustainable human settlement that would respond to a range of interests and incomes in the inner city of Cape Town," Fransman said.


    The plans have been welcomed by the Cape Town Partnership, which says it is especially excited about the social housing component of the project.


    Programme director Bulelwa Ngewana said this could be one of the first official social housing projects in the city, even though it will still be "nowhere near adequate" to address the shortage of affordable accommodation in the city.


    "It's an example of what social housing is about, we've been talking about it but need to show people what it will look like," she said.  "People need to live closer to their place of work."


    The proposals are open for public comment.


    Jody Patterson of NM Associates, which is involved in drawing up the plans, said they hoped to submit their rezoning application by the end of July, and hoped the environmental impact assessment, incorporating any comments or objections, would also be complete by then. "After that, it's up to the relevant authorities," she said.

    Martin Pollack 
    © City of Cape Town, 2016