No concrete plan for old power station

Almost nine years after the Athlone cooling towers were demolished to make way for a new mixed use development, the City of Cape Town is still no closer to knowing when the site will be developed.

Athlone residents are unlikely to see any building happening at the old power station site anytime soon, according to the City of Cape Town.

It has been almost nine years since the Athlone Power Station’s “two ladies” were demolished, but the mixed-use development meant to replace them has yet to materialise.

According to the City, it could be at least another five years before any breaking of ground is seen.

Last May, a contract between the City of Cape Town and Aurecon South Africa came into effect following a Constitutional Court ruling that concluded years of legal battles over alleged irregularities in the tender process.

As stated in the contract, the decommissioning process ranges from stripping disused electrical infrastructure and equipment from within buildings to the rehabilitation of contaminated material, including the soil on the
site.

“The site forms part of the City’s catalytic transit-oriented development portfolio, and a residentially-led mixed-use development was proposed, the feasibility of which was explored by a recent planning process and proved inconclusive,” said Phindile Maxiti, the City’s mayoral committee member for energy and climate change.

The Athlone Power Station, built in the 1960s, was the last coal-fired power station to operate in Cape Town.

It produced electricity until the boilers switched off in 2003, due to
the high costs it took to keep it running.

Ms Maxiti said that because of the energy crisis and “sunk investment on site” her department had “paused to reconsider whether the site offers a more strategic use, such as being repurposed for utilities in support of City objectives”.

“The decommissioning phase, which is programmed over the next five years, provides the City with an opportunity to review its options in relation to the future use of the site.”

Aziza Kannemeyer, chairperson of the Athlone Community Police Forum, said it was “disappointing” that the site had been vacant for close to a decade.

“The community of Athlone would like to see a development that would support the needs of low income communities, such as a clinic or housing.”