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Premier Helen Zille has revealed that an estimated 18 000 affordable housing units would be possible on a well-located property near Cape Town’s CBD, should the SANDF agree to move its operations.

The Ysterplaat Air Force Base is a 220.72-hectare site situated adjacent to the N1 between Ysterplaat/Brooklyn and Century City.

Speaking on Cape Talk’s John Maytham show, the Premier said she had held in-principle discussions with the Graaf Trust, who agreed to work with government to develop the land.

The Graaf Trust donated the majority of the Ysterplaat site to the state around World War 1, so that the land could be used for military purposes. The Trust is a pre-emptive rights holder over the land, and must first be consulted before the property can be used for non-military purposes.

“I had a meeting with Brett Moore, who represents the Trust, and he says the trustees are perfectly ready to work with government to develop significant sections of the land for precisely the purpose we want,” said Premier Zille.

The Premier has been fighting for Ysterplaat and other properties to be used for housing, from the time she was Mayor of Cape Town between 2006 and 2009.

Constant changes in the national cabinet – particularly in the Defence and Public Works ministries – had hampered discussions. The Premier mentioned that the SANDF had previously required costs of hundreds of millions of rand to be paid by the City of Cape Town, to move their operations to Simon’s Town.

Ysterplaat is one of several nationally-owned mega-properties in Cape Town – along with Culemborg, Youngsfield, Wingfield and Denel – that could potentially yield over 93 000 affordable housing units.

The global trend of urbanisation should place the land reform spotlight firmly on urban land and housing, the Premier has previously said.

The Premier added that the Province was demonstrating its commitment by using a provincial piece of land – the 22-hectare site of the old Conradie hospital close to the inner city – for affordable housing on a mixed-use, cross-subsidised basis.

This model could be replicated on the larger well-located national properties, something which the Premier committed to keep fighting for.

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