Private property, gentrification, tension and change at the ‘urban edge’: a study of Jamestown, Stellenbosch.
Arendse, Gary Dean
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This study entitled, “Private property, gentrification, tension and change at the ‘urban edge’: a study of Jamestown, Stellenbosch.” is about a small place called Jamestown, in which I have lived all my life. Jamestown, located near the town of Stellenbosch is situated 40 km to the east of Cape Town, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The Stellenbosch area has a long history, as an early settlement in the Dutch Colonial period, in which missionaries were active in the establishment of the town and its associated agricultural activities after the end of slavery in 1848. It was the location in which missionary societies first built churches and much missionary activity began. Jamestown was established in 1903 as part of this process as a Rhenish Mission by the Rev. Jacob Weber and James Rattray who made land available to a church congregation, made up of local small-scale farmers. Contemporary Jamestown remains the home to many descendants of the original families who still live and farm in a self-sustainable manner. Yet, in 1965, Jamestown’s future was under threat as the infamous Group Areas Act was being implemented across the country under apartheid. In 1966 a decision was made that to save Jamestown from forced removals and declaration as a White Group Area, after which it was declared a Coloured Group Area. This thesis explores the significance of this decision and examines how this shift influenced the future of Jamestown. Major changes have been occurring in and around Jamestown since 2000 and from 2009 Jamestown has been designated as being situated on the ‘urban edge’ of Stellenbosch. Rapid transformation with burgeoning urban sprawl, suburbanisation and gentrification taking place in the areas surrounding the town with new themed developments, including gated communities and malls has taken place. This research tracks how long-standing Jamestown residents have been affected by these land-use changes and the social effect this has had on their lives. The significant rise in the demand for private property in the area has led to the increase of property prices over the last 15 years. Land in Jamestown, which didn’t have much value previously, rose significantly in value and together with this, the rates and taxes have escalated to such an extent that the majority of Jamestown’s residents, made up of low to middle-income households, cannot afford to own property. Occurring in parallel with this process a heritage committee has been established as residents seek to retain Jamestown’s “village feel”, while for developers, the change in and around Jamestown has brought huge profits. In short this thesis is concerned with the complex interplay between the effects of private property development, gentrification and claims to heritage in the place I consider home, in post-apartheid Jamestown.