root - January 30, 2024

Completion date uncertain for 488 planned units 

  • The Killarney Gardens housing project, announced during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, was supposed to alleviate overcrowding in Dunoon’s informal settlements.
  • The project was supposed to have been completed this year.
  • However, various factors have brought the project to a halt.

Peter Luhanga   

Cape Town — A housing initiative intended to alleviate the strain on overcrowded Cape Town informal settlements during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, aiming to provide accommodation for 1500 families, has hit a snag. 

The Western Cape Department of Infrastructure has paused the project, re-evaluating the development model due to concerns about substantial costs. With the Covid-19 pandemic now less critical, the urgency to complete the project has waned, prompting a shift in priorities. 

The Killarney Garden Project was to benefit families living in precarious conditions in the informal settlements of Dunoon.

However, despite the initial progress reported in July 2022 ( the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure has now decided to halt the project, citing myriad challenges.

Western Cape Department of Infrastructure spokesperson Jandre Bakker says the project was initially scheduled for completion in June 2024.

But Bakker says several factors have contributed to the halting of the project. These include budgetary constraints, the diminished criticality of the Covid-19 pandemic, challenges related to housing typology, a decision by the former Department of Human Settlements (now a branch within the Department of Infrastructure) to pause the project for a reconsideration of the development model, town planning objections and appeals, and the pending approval of the site development plan.

“The completion date is dependent on the approval of the revised Site Development Plan (SDP). The SDP needs to be approved by the City of Cape Town Council,” he says.

Answering questions on the project timeline, he says the Western Cape Government acquired the land for the project in 2018.

He says the intention was for the development of an integrated human settlement that would serve various communities in the surrounding area with BNG (Breaking New Ground) accommodation and a team of consultants was appointed and briefed in 2019.

He says following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa in 2020, the then National Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu identified the informal settlements in the areas around Dunoon for de-densification.

“Since the City of Cape Town did not have vacant land available to facilitate the de-densification of these informal settlements, it was agreed that part of the land acquired by the provincial government would be utilised for the development of a Transitional Residential Area (TRA),” says Bakker.

He says the intention was to utilise the development as transitional units for various periods: in the short-term, to relocate people from roadways to widen roads for emergency vehicle access; in the medium-term, to transfer eligible individuals from transition units to their BNG units; and in the long-term, those who did not qualify for a housing subsidy would occupy the units as tenants.

He says funding from the City of Cape Town was allocated for the construction of these TRA units. However, owing to town planning objections and appeals, the project faced delays.

In response to questions about the specific tasks accomplished thus far, he said the fencing around the land was completed from in December 2020, site clearance took place from November 2021 to March 2022, and the bulk civil engineering infrastructure work was completed in February 2023.

Concerning funding allocated to the project, he said there is currently an allocation of R217-million. However, the budget will need to undergo a review pending a resolution on the project. The total expenditure on the work undertaken so far is R26-million.

He said the housing project is designed to provide 488 housing units.

“The Department will follow the national housing code beneficiary qualify criteria, which prioritises the elderly, people living with disabilities, child headed households, and those who have been longest in the registry of City of Cape Town housing demand database,” he said.

When approached for comments regarding the Department of Infrastructure’s revelation about the project facing obstacles, Sinethembe Matomela, a member of the project’s steering committee and chairperson of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco Dunoon branch), expressed surprise. Matomela said when seeking clarity from department officials about the lack of progress, they were simply informed that the project was encountering challenges.

Matomela says Dunoon is densely populated, and residents were eagerly anticipating the housing project. People had high expectations when the then Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu enthusiastically announced the project.

“It’s normal for them (authorities) to start a project and in the middle of it just stop. A lot of people were set to benefit and when they hear about the project delay they’re going to be hurt,” said Matomela.

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