The Ruo Emoh development is a community driven medium density housing project situated on a well-located piece of infill land on the corner of Weltevreden Parkway & Caesars Drive in Colorado Park, Mitchells Plain. Houses will be located adjacent to public transport and nearby schools, a community hall, shops and a hospital. It is envisaged as an integrated medium-density development which will include 49 housing units, a commercial enclave and a small open public space to be used as a playground or meeting point. There will be a variety of housing typologies, including double storey, semi-detached and free standing.
The project was started more than a decade ago by a community, composed largely of backyard dwellers, who wanted to build their own houses and identified a piece of land that was then purchased by uTshani Fund on their behalf. Instead of waiting on the City’s ever growing housing waiting list, the group formed the Ruo Emoh (Our Home spelt backwards) Housing Saving Scheme, part of the South African Homeless People’s Federation and Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and have been saving their money for over a decade to build their houses (http://sasdialliance.org.za).
Throughout the history of the Ruo Emoh development, one of the main challenges has been the objection by the Colorado Ratepayers Association. As a result, the subdivision and rezoning approval process took over 5 years (2001 – 2006).
Once obtained, the approval was only valid for five years. By the time the subsidy approval was granted in May 2011, the subdivision approval was about to lapse. PEP, on behalf of uTshani Fund, had applied for an extension of the subdivision approval 10 months prior to the expiry date (August 2010) and received written confirmation from the CoCT that the approval would be granted and the installation of infrastructure could precede.
Within 1 month of being on site, the Council issued uTshani with a ‘cease works order’ because the rezoning and subdivision approval had lapsed on 26 June 2011 and Council had not yet made a final decision on the application to extend the validity thereof. uTshani Fund was forced to terminate the contract with Civils 2000 with only half of the underground services having been installed. uTshani Fund also had to pay substantial penalties to both the contractor and the consulting engineers for terminating the contract prematurely.
Subsequent to the above events that cumulated in the “cease works order” uTshani Fund, assisted by Peoples Environmental Planning (PEP) worked tirelessly to find the funding, re-unite the community and overcome the institutional and administrative hurdles needed to restart Ruo Emoh. In late 2015, after numerous consultations with Province and the City of Cape Town (and many other stakeholders), the project was included in the cities official budget at the level of the new subsidy quantum. All approvals are now in place and at the time of writing the installation of infrastructure is imminent.