Two weeks ago the contractors who have been installing the sanitation, water, roads, electrical and telecommunications infrastructure for the Lynedoch EcoVillage moved off the site after completing their contract. This clears the way for the transfers to the new home owners. All the relevant National, Provincial, District and Local Government Departments have now signed their clearance certificates which means that the Lynedoch Development company is authorised to transfer the titles and to take delivery of the payments from home owners who have bought sites. In the meantime, the Home Owners Association has been working hard to prepare the new home owners for the design and building process that lies ahead. Workshops have been taking place, and a construction team with expertise in ecological design and clay construction has been assembled. Mid-January has been set for the start of construction of the first houses which will more than likely be a mix of subsidy and non-subsidy housing.
It is worth noting that the socially mixed nature of the Lynedoch Development has attracted the attention of policy makers at National, Provincial and Local Government level because the National Minister of Housing has just announced a new National Housing Policy that emphasizes the need for social integration via mixed housing developments. This is a major break from the past housing policy framework which resulted in increased spatial separation between rich and poor because of a housing policy that was heavily influenced by business think tanks and financial institutions rather than the real needs of a divided society where poverty has got worse rather than better since 1994. The Sustainability Institute was contracted by the National Housing Department to assist in this policy-making process. Firoz Khan, who is a lecturer in the School of Public Management and Planning, coordinated this work on behalf of the Institute and the School. Firoz Khan has not only been intimately involved in the national policy process, he has also been involved with the strategy to upgrade the squatter settlements along the N2. Furthermore, Edgar Pieterse, a member of the Board of the Sustainability Institute, was recently appointed Special Advisor to the new Premier of the Western Cape Province. He, together with others in the Province, have expressed interest in the approach that Lynedoch has developed over the past four years because it could be relevant for how to implement similar ecologically designed socially mixed developments in Cape Town’s inner city areas. In this regard, the Oude Molen EcoVillage Development has approached the Sustainability Institute to assist them with their development strategy. This is a unique 45 ha property located between Observatory and Pinelands and is the ideal site for a socially mixed ecologically designed development.
It is clear that as the Lynedoch Development now moves into it’s house construction phase that it will continue to directly influence local and provincial development strategies and national policy processes. However, this can only happen if enough effort is put into the data gathering process that is required to adequately learn from the Lynedoch Development process. This is where the Phd and Masters students can play an important role.