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New gap housing development in Elsies River offers families a place to call home

From left: Cllr Shehaam Sims, Mayco Member for Housing; Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor; Helen Zille, Premier of the Western

A new gap housing development has been constructed in Elsies River thanks to a groundbreaking partnership between the City of Cape Town, the Standard Bank of South Africa and Bitol Development.

The new development, known as Leo Mews, caters for households earning between R7 200 and R10 000 per month. This sector of the population earns too much to qualify for state subsidised housing and not enough to enter the private housing market. The problem is compounded by the fact that neither banks nor developers cater for this so-called ‘gap’ market.

Executive Mayor Alderman Dan Plato outlined the City’s solution to the problem at the opening ceremony on Monday 21 September 2009, at which the Premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille also spoke. “We believed that it could be solved if a synergy could be created between affordable land being provided by the municipality and buy-in from banks and developers. Leo Mews proves that the concept is viable” he said.

Gap housing is an important City strategy for alleviating Cape Town’s housing shortage. The municipality sells vacant infill land to developers and banks at an affordable rate to keep the selling price of the houses as low as possible, and the banks provide the finance and development expertise.

Leo Mews is the first of six such initiatives, the others being in Kraaifontein, Mitchells Plain, Wetton, Ottery, Silvertown and Rugby. These developments have their origins in the City of Cape Town/Banks Co-operation Agreement that was signed on 16 May 2006. This agreement was the first operational and tangible partnership between a local authority and the major national banks.

“Strong partnerships between government at national, provincial and local level, banks as providers of development and mortgage finance, and developers is required if national goals are to be achieved,” said Aubrey Manganye, Director of Standard Bank’s Integrated Residential Developments Division (IRDev).

“Our mandate is to not only address immediate housing challenges, but to build a future customer base and facilitate a sustainable environment for all South Africans to prosper. The partnership with the City of Cape Town is an example of the many partnerships that we hope to foster throughout the country in the future,” he said.

His sentiment was echoed by David Williams, Marketing Manager of Bitol Development, who said: ”Anybody purchasing a home aspires to a place where they feel safe, comfortable and proud of, regardless of their income.”

Leo Mews fulfils all of these requirements. This medium density apartment complex comprises two bedroom units with fitted carpets and tiles, secure parking, a CCTV monitoring system and access control. The apartments also have solar hot water systems to save electricity, and water recovery, recycling and re-use systems to conserve water and save money.

There are 125 units in the development; prices range between R237 000 and R254 000.

Potential buyers need to earn R7 200 or more per month to qualify for a bank loan and acquire finance directly from Standard Bank. The City will prioritise people who meet the income criteria on its integrated housing database.

Plato is enthusiastic about the project’s success. “The Leo Mews partnership model between the City of Cape Town, Standard Bank of South Africa and Bitol Development is sustainable and can be replicated anywhere in the country provided a local authority is willing to make land available at a price that makes development viable,” he said.

The City and Standard Bank have entered Leo Mews in the annual “Housing Project of the Year’ competition organised by the Southern African Housing Foundation. It will compete in the category for units that cost more than R80 000 and for the overall prize. The objective of the competition is to: ‘identify, encourage and promote good practise in housing design development and management. The evaluation will be based on the innovative use and management of human resources, financing options and technologies as well as the contribution to community development, management and the sustainability of the development.’

It will be one of the projects visited by local and international delegates attending the Foundation’s annual conference which will be held in Cape Town from 11-14 October 2009.

 
2009/09/28
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