R2bn mixed-income development to transform Joburg south

R2bn mixed-income development to transform Joburg southJoburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau gets behind the wheel at the South Hills project ground-breaking ceremony.

Solutions will range from fully and partly subsidised houses to affordable freehold units, and include "gap" homes as well as serviced sites and training for those who wish to build their own home. Rudo Mungoshi and Elias Nkabinde report.

Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau'This is a very exciting project' - Executive Mayor Parks Tau.Construction has started on a R2-billion mixed-income residential development that will changes the lives of thousands of struggling families while transforming inherited settlement patterns south of Johannesburg.

The South Hills residential development project, located six kilometres south of the City's CBD, will reduce the housing backlog of the inner city and surrounding areas,  delivering 5 327 housing opportunities over the next five to six years.

Undeterred by the heavy rains, numerous people from surrounding neighbourhoods pitched up to witness the ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday, 8 November.

The City's executive mayor, Parks Tau, underscored the role of public participation in the project, saying that what excited him about it "is that it will be a mixed-income development that will attract people of different income levels into housing".

Own home builders, 'gap' earners catered for

The 199-hectare, medium-density development will provide quality, secure housing solutions according to need and financial capacity, catering for individuals or families earning anywhere between R0 and R15 000 per month.

These will range from fully and partly subsidised houses on the one hand to affordable freehold units on the other, and include "gap" homes - for those whose income is too high for a state subsidy but too low for a bank loan - as well as serviced sites and training for those who wish to build their own home.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing Dan BovuMember of the Mayoral Committee for Housing Dan BovuMember of the Mayoral Committee for Housing Dan Bovu said the project would create affordability while changing the face of Joburg south. "We want to make sure that all of our residents benefit from it, whatever their financial situation."

"Gap" homes will be available to people who earn between R1 500 and R7 500 a month for rental units, and between R3 500 and R15 000 a month for bonded units.

The project is a joint venture between the City of Joburg, Standard Bank and black-empowered property developer Calgro M3 Holdings. The City will invest R750-million in grants and subsidies for the project between now and 2020, the scheduled completion date.

Tau said the project, as a key part of the City's Corridors of Freedom initiative, would bring families closer to schools, hospitals and place of work and leisure. "Along this corridor people will have access to cheaper, reliable transport options," he said.

The Corridors of Freedom initiative is being developed citywide in order to undo the spatial planning of the apartheid era, which shunted black people to Johannesburg's outskirts, far from access to social and economic opportunities, creating an artificial barrier between communities of different races.

The South Hills development will include significant road upgrades and the construction of new roads connecting the area with neighbouring suburbs, as well as the development of mixed-use business centres, crèches, religious sites, community centres, schools, recreational parks and public sport facilities.

Calgro M3 Holdings CEO Ben Pierre Malherbe said the new homes would provide much-needed stability and comfort to families.

"Through this spirit of collaboration, we are ensuring the creation of good, affordable homes for the people in Joburg," Malherbe said.