R10bn low-cost housing plan


Development close to Umhlanga Ridge and Mount Edgecombe
R10bn low-cost housing plan

November 18, 2005 Edition 1

Bonny Verwey

Proposed plans for Durban’s biggest development of low-cost housing in an affluent suburban area were unveiled yesterday at the intended site which borders Umhlanga Ridge, Mount Edgecombe and Phoenix. The project looks set to get under way as early as next year and will cost about R10 billion.

The announcement of the Phoenix East Integrated Housing Development Project follows last year’s controversial proposal by Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that low-cost houses be built on prime land. Sisulu’s proposal was aimed at boosting the economy, promoting integrated neighbourhoods and increasing the number of people living in inner cities.

The announcement was met with strong reaction from opposition parties who claimed the plan had not been discussed with the council. As the plan stands, in about four years the line between rich and poor will be blurred near the upmarket areas of Umhlanga and Mount Edgecombe, as low-cost and more expensive houses are mixed to create a truly integrated community. The project will see 15 000 to 20 000 families housed in homes ranging from R50 000 to R500 000 in value.

The land is owned by Moreland Developments, part of the Tongaat-Hulett Group. Moreland is in full support of the project and

recognises the land is “uniquely positioned to make a key strategic contribution to the consolidation and integration” of the area. The 1 200ha tract borders the communities of Umhlanga Ridge, Mount Edgecombe, Phoenix, Ottawa, Waterloo and Prestondale.

Yesterday eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba, councillors and officials gathered at the site to unveil the plans for the development. Its proximity to the proposed King Shaka Airport would provide job opportunities and access to amenities. However, eThekwini Municipality Housing Department Head Couglan Pather said facilities and amenities would be developed on the site and the houses would range from low-cost and semi-detached houses to double-storey houses and simplexes.


“The mix of housing styles will cater for poor people who are living in shacks to people who have bonded houses from R80 000 to R500 000.

“This neighbourhood will see not only houses, but commercial sites, light industrial parks, business parks, schools, clinics and other amenities.”

Mlaba said most townships were to the north of the city but most development and industry were in the south basin. The project will see the first residents of low-cost housing being moved in from informal settlements by the end of 2006 and is expected to take about four years to complete. Moreland Director PC Chetty said a planning team had been established and was busy with the initial strategic and land-use planning.

People who earned less than R1 500 a month would qualify for free housing valued at R50 000, whereas those who earned more than R1 500 would qualify for bonded housing valued at R80 000 and upward. The integration of mixed-cost housing would ensure there was no distinct line between rich and poor communities, and the more expensive houses would be similar to those already established in bordering areas. Although the plan is to build houses up to the value of R500 000, he said this figure could be exceeded if there was demand.

“Therefore people (in bordering upmarket communities) should not be concerned about their properties decreasing in value. The planning of this project has taken this into account,” he said.

However, the DA’s Lyn Ploos van Amstel said she was “outraged” at the plan because it had not been put to council. “The mayor has bypassed the council and he has to know that this plan is going to be controversial as it is going to affect property prices in bordering areas,” she said.

Durban North councillor John Steenhuisen said the project was a “skewed social engineering project”.

“This whole project is very mysterious and has not been approved by any council committee. It is going to evoke a lot of controversy, and serious questions also have to be asked of Moreland,” he said.

The council had “shot itself in the foot” because the project would reduce property values, resulting in less rates income for the city.

Ratepayer and resident associations in bordering areas declined to comment.