Go!Durban on the move Go!Durban is on the move

2016-11-08 06:01
 Photo: supplied The initial area embraces the central business district and the broader zone encompassing Lahee Park to the M19, St John’s Avenue to the M13, Otto Volek Road and the Old Mutual towers. ABOVE: The St John’s Bridge underpass that has been reconfigured for the GO!Durban BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) dedicated bus lanes.

Photo: supplied The initial area embraces the central business district and the broader zone encompassing Lahee Park to the M19, St John’s Avenue to the M13, Otto Volek Road and the Old Mutual towers. ABOVE: The St John’s Bridge underpass that has been reconfigured for the GO!Durban BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) dedicated bus lanes.

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As history has shown us too, public
private partnerships have proved to be a key catalyst in stimulating development so with the city’s investment into GO!Durban, we believe this too will provide a
foundation for many other opportunities

WITH the upgrade of the road systems in Pinetown for the first phase of the GO!Durban integrated rapid public transport network, which will link the CBD to KwaMashu’s Bridge City, residents and business owners in the area can look forward to an upgraded urban environment which is poised to stimulate the economy in the area.

A public meeting held in Pinetown last week, hosted by GO!Durban, ended with the prescribed three volunteers willing to take up the cudgel to begin the lengthy process to establish a Pinetown UIP. The initial area embraces the central business district and the broader zone encompassing Lahee Park to the M19, St John’s Avenue to the M13, Otto Volek Road and the Old Mutual towers.

This meeting marked the beginning of a connection between GO!Durban’s transport infrastructure and operational upgrades with the opportunities that are inherent in maintaining and managing these upgraded precincts for the economic benefit of businesses and residents in the area.

The UIP Company’s Cara Reilly says precinct management offers an economic and investment solution to urban centres. Urban degeneration and decay underpins increased crime which leads to fear and ultimately an undesirable space, specifically public space that translates into private property devaluations via rentals.

She stresses the UIP concept is not a South African elitist one and originated in Canada to deal with the issue for getting more out of property values by tackling the public spaces in which they are situated.

“While the city owns the public space, it is those businesses with vested interest in that space that must drive change and partnerships to prevent or reverse urban decay. The aim is to secure property values by building investor confidence and retaining existing or attracting new businesses,” Reilly says.

Core to a UIP is establishing and maintaining a relationship with eThekwini Municipality, providing the privately funded supplementary services including security and cleaning, creating dedicated points of contact such that the municipality and the UIP have a single entry of communication and being a catalyst for social and environmental development.

The eThekwini Municipality Economic Development and Investment Promotions Unit Gary Cullen says the city recognises UIPs as growing opportunities within the city. While historically the municipality had viewed the concept as “vested interests”, there has been a shift that recognises a public private partnership into these public spaces means eThekwini can more diversely spread its resources.

“The municipality wants to simplify the UIP process so it can roll out the concept throughout the metropolitan area. The reality is we need to do our bit to make the process easier – the municipality recognises the wealthier areas like Umhlanga Rocks can achieve successes with a UIP, but that raises questions on how can we work with those less wealthy areas to equally establish UIPs,” he says.

South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) consultant Andrew Layman says globally public transport nodes attract business and economic activity. Urban precincts, which in Durban are called UIPs, merely urban precincts, happen around the world. In South Africa there are currently 33 such organisations in Gauteng and 35 in Cape Town alone.

The benefit inherent in UIPs is that the private sector, essentially ratepayers, are involved in the decision-making process for improving the zone.

A key South African example is the Cape Town city centre anchored by the public transport hub, where previously gangs ruled the area and it was a no-go zone for the public.

When the UIP was instituted in 2006, commercial property values in the area topped R6 billion. Today that figure tops R35 billion as the zone has been cleaned up, citizens are willing to use the public space and the precinct management has ensured a public space that generates economic investment and confidence.

“If the private sector is unwilling to invest in public space, knowing the city is unable to do so given their resource constraints, it cannot blame the public sector for failing them,” Layman says.

Legislatively, establishing a UIP requires about 18 months as, after the administrative process has been completed, the UIP budget must correspond with the municipality’s year-end. Funds are drawn in the year from July.

“eThekwini Municipality acknowledges the tremendous value that the private sector adds to the economic development of the City,” says mayor Cllr Zandile Gumede.

“As history has shown us too, public private partnerships have proved to be a key catalyst in stimulating development, so with the city’s investment into GO!Durban, we believe this too will provide a foundation for many other opportunities.”

- Supplied.

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