‘Unlocking’ the CBD

2016-07-19 06:00
 Developments to complete the unfinished highways may hold the key to unlocking the Foreshore.  PHOTO: Johan Dempers/ Cape TOwn Central Improvement District

Developments to complete the unfinished highways may hold the key to unlocking the Foreshore. PHOTO: Johan Dempers/ Cape TOwn Central Improvement District

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Affordable housing proposed for the Foreshore is set to “unlock” the CBD.

As part of the City of Cape Town’s call for proposals to develop the unfinished highways on the Foreshore, developers have been instructed that any proposals must include an affordable housing component.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport, says: “We have stated from the outset that a percentage of the proposed development of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct must be earmarked for affordable housing opportunities to those beneficiaries and applicants who qualify for these opportunities in terms of the City’s policies.

“This requirement is very important because the City is committed to redress and to providing residents from previously disadvantaged areas with access to housing opportunities and work opportunities within the CBD. The housing opportunities can be developed within the Foreshore Freeway Precinct itself or on other sites supplementary to the core development area in the CBD.”

The Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) has welcomed the proposal.

Rob Kane, CCID chairperson, says: “For a number of years now, we have been saying that any truly successful downtown, anywhere in the world, must be welcoming and inclusive to stakeholders across a full economic spectrum, which includes affordable housing that will enable people who work in town to also be as close as possible to their homes and families.”

Many Capetonians who work, as well as study, in the CBD “spend a huge amount of their income just on transportation into the area”, Kane says.

“Not to mention the time it takes to travel backwards and forwards each day and the congestion it causes on our roads and public transportation systems.”

There are tracts of public land, like those now being looked at – particularly on the boundaries of the CBD – that would be ideal for unlocking for this type of development, he adds.

The offering of affordable housing opportunities within the CBD is currently extremely limited, Herron says.

“We believe that the provision of affordable housing opportunities could assist us in addressing the legacy of apartheid spatial planning and in building an inclusive city for all of our residents.”

In addition to providing affordable housing, the proposals will need to address a plethora of issues, Kane says.

“The problem has been defined unilaterally as a vehicle congestion problem at the Buitengracht intersection, but actually it’s a multifaceted problem: firstly, it is one of pedestrian and vehicle access routes to the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Town CBD, the Port and the underdeveloped District Six/East City precinct.

“Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it is an urban design challenge to ensure that the CBD and Table Bay Harbour are not severed from each other permanently by an elevated freeway. Whatever is left behind at the end of this process must create cohesion – both physically and socially – to ensure a reconnection from mountain to CBD to sea. It will require investment in a well-briefed, multi-disciplined design-engineering-urban development team who can really think out of the box to give Cape Town a cost-effective solution to the problem of congestion.”

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