R1bn housing project fails to break ground

Sakhisizwe chief executive William Charles on the site of the R1-billion Florida Heights integrated development
Picture: Brian Witbooi

Plans for the construction of a R1-billion integrated housing development on the outskirts of Despatch have been put on hold pending approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Although the Florida Heights development project aims to create hundreds of much-needed jobs, it failed to break ground as scheduled last month.

Sakhisizwe chief executive William Charles said yesterday that the launch of the Florida Heights Phase 1 development had been delayed due to an outstanding approval ruling from the department.

“This application, which was submitted in July, relates to changes in the approved layout of the project, impacting on the densification of the area,” he said. Costs would not be affected by the delay.

“We are continuing to seek clarity from the department on this issue,” Charles said.

“We will be meeting them this week to seek clarity and expedite answers.”

The project was intended to provide homes for nearly 45 000 residents and create nearly 10 000 direct and indirect job opportunities over five years.

The project is planned on vacant land along the R367 across the Swartkops River.

Should the project be approved, it will see 1 020 housing units developed alongside community and mixed-use facilities, including a shopping mall.

According to the national Housing Development Agency’s technical assessment framework project, the metro’s housing backlog is at 80 000 units.

In October, however, the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism ruled that the N2 North housing project opposite Baywest should not go ahead.

The department ruled that the project would cause irreparable damage to the Baakens River and that at least six housing projects which had been approved had not been activated.

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