Lights, bus stop, action!

2019-06-04 06:00
Central Road and Hawthorne Road will soon become teeming with life after efforts have been made to make the area safer. PHOTO: earl Haupt

Central Road and Hawthorne Road will soon become teeming with life after efforts have been made to make the area safer. PHOTO: earl Haupt

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What may seem a dank, dark space will soon become a vibrant area filled with light and life.

The recent erection of street lights by the City of Cape Town, on the corner of Central and Hawthorne Street in the Stadium on Main precinct in Claremont, has been welcomed by Claremont Improvement District Company (CICD) executive manager Abdul Kerbelker.

He feels this will have a knock-on effect and bring about a rejuvenation of a once lifeless space.

“There are more people walking over there and the City have rightly put in some extra lighting to light up that space. There are more people being forced to come through there. It is not just us as the CIDC, but the rest of the community saying that ‘hey, we are also walking through here’. Added to this, the University of Cape Town (UCT) bus stop, which is a very popular bus stop over here,” says Kerbelker.

The nearby student accommodation units also bring extra active feet to the area.

“What I am suggesting is that there is more of a need because there are more people using the space over here. There’s also more retail over there, such as the dog parlour, the Paul Bothner Music store over there,” he adds.

Construction is underway to help ease access to the area through Stadium on Main, with the developer seizing on the possibility of moving people directly to the UCT bus stop instead of walking around the block, which would have been more of a challenge had the area remained poorly lit.

“The lights enhance safety and because the area is well lit now, it is well managed. When an area is well managed, people feel more comfortable in that space. Well-lit areas are safer. Also, where there is more people it is safer, because there is the idea that there are safety in numbers,” Kerbelker says.

The added activity and people will increase security levels in the area naturally he adds.

“Where these were quiet, dark streets it is now becoming alive with retail activity and for us it is crucial that you actually have access and freedom of movement.

“It allows for more natural security, because you cannot post a security guard, it is the whole community ideal of safety and security,” Kerbelker says.

Added to this, nearby Cavendish Square comes with its own physical security, which allows for more movement further down the street, which in turn then allows for more natural security.

“We don’t want to remove people from public spaces. People enhance the public space. This entire area used to be dead. With the retail, the car body shop and Paul Bothner, it adds to the space where these were all previously ‘to let’ shops.

“Now you see, just with the UCT bus stop, it has created life in that space and public space adds to public life, and that is what we are. 

As an improvement district, we are looking at public space management and creating life in the public spaces,” explains Kerbelker, while also expressing the importance of street benches.

“Public furniture is important too, as well as public lighting is important. All the elements together create a lively public space, so a dark and dingy space comes alive and also there is a particular type of public life – young students and strict fashion happening over there because the students dress up to go to university. It is a bit of a culture space happening over there (too),” he says.

These small investments in public spaces allow for these rejuvenations he says, but those investments only come if the need exists for people to be in those public spaces.

“By having one stop, and doing small investments, then you can actually give people an opportunity to meet and have that social cohesion and that is what we as an improvement district love – that we are creating public spaces and public life which is safe, clean and welcoming people to interact.”

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