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​Plan to formalise backyard dwellings

With the housing demand outstripping supply by far in the wake of rapid urbanisation, the City of Johannesburg has recognised that the informal housing market could significantly contribute to the reduction of the housing backlog confronting the city.

As a result, the City seeks to soon change the face of the informal housing market by rolling out an alternative rental accommodation strategy as part of a broad Sustainable Human Settlements Urbanisation Plan (SHSUP).

Addressing the media this week, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Development Planning Urban Management Councillor Roslynn Greeff said although the City had been able to deliver on its housing promises through new developments such as Fleurhof, City Deep, Lehae and Lufhereng, the housing backlog was still stubbornly high.

She said alternative rental accommodation represented a fundamental component of the housing market. Estimates put the number of informal dwellings in Johannesburg alone at 320 000 units.

“There are hundreds of backyard dwellings in areas like Soweto, Diepsloot, Ivory Park and South Hills. We want to manage, guide and direct what is already happening in these areas with a focus on safety, health and the environment,” MMC Greeff said.

To this end, the City has extended an invitation to industry players to submit innovative ideas to change the face of informal housing in Johannesburg.

Players in the construction industry are being asked to come up with creative designs of informal dwellings that will, importantly, take into account safety, technical, economical and environmental considerations. 

“We believe that with the technology and knowledge available in the construction industry, we can delve into that area to get some bright ideas on alternative housing solutions,” MMC Greeff said.

Preggie Naidoo, Acting Unit Head: Building Development Management, said as part of the City’s plan to formalise backyard buildings, technical advice centres boasting show units would be rolled out in all the regions, starting in Braamfischerville, Region C.

“Once we have packaged the model and developed standards, they will be made available to homeowners, with technical specifications outlined to ensure compliance.

More building inspectors will be deployed and the centres will also accelerate the building approval process because building plans will be approved on site at these centres,” Naidoo said.
MMC Greeff said through the SHSUP, the City would help unlock the investment potential of RDP housing.

“Most of the building activity around RDPs is illegal. With the SHSUP, homeowners will be able to go to the bank to access building finance. And there will be value for the tenants as their quality of life would also be improved.”

Construction players keen on submitting proposals for alternative rental accommodation are asked to attend a compulsory briefing on Tuesday March 3 at the Metro Centre.
Enquires can be directed to Gideon Strauss on (011) 407-6107 or The closing date for submissions is April 17.