Johannesburg – Surely Nelson Mandela did not struggle so that we can build cities for mobility only, the executive mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau, said at the opening of the annual convention and exhibition of the SA Property Owners Association (Sapoa).
Sapoa is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
“Someone asked me recently whether Mandela struggled so that we can build cities for mobility or for humanity,” said Parks. “Therefore, it is very important to keep this in mind when determining policy objectives. Spatial policies must be inclusive.”
He said the population of Johannesburg grows by about 10 000 people per month, and about 120 000 per year.
“We have to keep in mind that Johannesburg is still an unequal city of contrasts. You cannot talk of land use and spatial development without taking into account the people of a city,” said Tau.
“It must, therefore, be about spatial policy and the social process. The challenge is about inclusivity to offer access to opportunities.”
He would like to see Johannesburg as a compact, polycentric city of urban efficiency where the inner city plays an important role along with other important nodes like Sandton and Soweto. Public transport must be used to link the various nodes.
“It must be about increasing density along the important nodes and corridors in the city and to stitch it together into one consolidated integrated city to give people access to opportunities in the urban centres,” said Tau.
“We must build just and more equitable cities that are more inclusive, and the property sector can play a very important role in building these cities. New developments, for instance, could make provision for 20% of it to be affordable housing.”
He emphasised that it is important for developers to think in inclusive ways. He also said it is important for the City to continuously assess the cost drivers for the property sector. Electricity costs are, for instance, one of the biggest challenges for the property sector. That is why the City must look at a “basket of goods” it can offer, according to Tau.
Michael Deighton, Sapoa president and managing director of Tongaat Hulett Developments, said at the opening of the convention that strategic leadership is critical in what he called “these challenging and volatile times”.
He emphasised the importance of good research and forming the right partnerships in the property industry – including on the global stage. A sound relationship with government is also important in his view.
“Cities are the drivers of the future of the economy and real estate is at the heart of that process. There seems to be an increased realisation of that,” said Deighton.