On Thursday 21 June the Provincial Minister of Local Government and Housing launched the Western Cape Sustainable Human Settlement Strategy (WCSHSS). Based on extensive research by NGOs into the negative consequences of the post-1994 housing policy for the Western Cape, the WCSHSS is an interpretation of Breaking New Ground – the National Department of Housing’s new national housing policy framework. The final version of the WCSHSS was compiled by a joint Sustainability Institute-Stellenbosch University team. The significance of the WCSHSS is that it breaks away from the post-1994 policy that promoted the allocation of subsidies to greenfields developments on the urban periphery where land is cheap. This has had disastrous consequences in the Western Cape.
Furthermore, housing policy has hitherto completely ignored sustainable resource use issues, such as energy, solid waste, water and the need to shorten distances between home and work. The WCSHSS promotes social integration by bringing the poor back into the city using, in particular, state land. It also promotes sustainable resource use on the grounds that if scarce financial resources are used to subsidise the unsustainable urban living patterns of the middle class, there will not be sufficient funds to eradicate urban poverty. Hence the emphasis on renewable energy, waste recycling, public transportion, mixed neighbourhoods, biodiversity, and water efficiency (including treatment and productive re-use of sewage). The WCSHSS will provide a major boost for sustainable neighbourhood initiatives mushrooming across the Western Cape. (Download the WCSHSS from the Research and Project Outputs Menu on this website.)