Vukuzenzele is a development that is located on the corner of Weltevreden and Lansdowne Roads, Philippi. It is situated on a well-located piece of land on the Wetton-Lansdowne corridor. The property is bounded to the North by Lansdowne Road, the East by a railway line, the South by an informal settlement known as Sweet Homes and the West by Weltevreden Road. The extent of the property is 7.26ha (24,372m²) that includes 235 residential houses, a commercially zoned portion and a portion allocated for community facilities. The current registered owner of the land is Umzi Craft Village (Pty) Ltd which in turn is owned by uTshani Fund, a registered non-profit organisation, that purchased the land for the purpose of developing affordable, cross subsidised, housing.
Vukuzenzele started in the 1990s and was driven by the South African Peoples Homeless Federation (SAHPF), supported by uTshani Fund and funded by the Department of Housing. It is a fully subsidized housing development. Vela VKE, the appointed consulting Engineers designed and supervised the installation of the civil infrastructure. The top structures were designed and overseen by Aaron Wegmann Architects although many variations in house designs occured. Even though the town planning approvals were initially in place, the rezoning and subdivision had lapsed. The services, installed in 2000 were in a poor condition, as the city had not, at that time, taken ownership of them.
PEP was appointed by uTshani Fund in mid-2010 with the aim of ‘unblocking’ the project and ultimately achieve handover of services to the local authority and transfer of title deeds to the individual beneficiaries. The first three years were spent in securing statutory approvals – without which none of the above could be achieved. Since then, the subdivision and rezoning approvals have been re-instated, the site was pegged, and a general plan approved.
In 2014 the services were officially handed over to council and PEP is currently in the process of negotiating the submission of house plans with council (encroachments being a hurdle in expediting the process). It is hoped that the submission of plans will pave the way for title transfer – at least to those residents who are not involved in encroachment disputes. PEP has also facilitated the sale of a portion of land to the Anton Lubowski Educational Trust for the establishment of an early childhood development center as well as facilitated advanced negotiations around the development of the commercially zoned portion of land.
To date PEP has assisted residents to secure 132 formal title deeds in Vukuzenzele. In order to make this affordable PEP sourced external funding. However this funding only covers 142 titles. Hence, moving forward, residents still wanting title will have to make a more significant financial contribution (or PEP will need to secure more funds). Blocks K and J remain stalled and uncleared due to the inability of the city to address the issue. PEP will continue to support the Vukuzenzele community until all blocks have been cleared and titles provided.