Areas and Places

eThekwini City officials plan to restore Durban Inner City

City officials have a plan to restore the inner City to its former glory and attract businesses and economic growth back to the area.

Acting Deputy City Manager for Economic Development and Planning Musa Mbhele presented the City’s Inner City Local Area Plan, Regeneration Strategy and Benchmarking Tour to the Executive Committee, today, 08 September 2015.

He said the Development, Planning and Management Unit had been working on the Master Plan to rejuvenate the inner City for the past few months.

“The purpose of the regeneration programme is to reclaim abandoned buildings and urban spaces, attract new innovative investment and ideas, social housing and the connectivity and integration of different modes of transport. This falls within the larger Long Term Development Framework of the City,” he said.

The nine districts covered by this plan include the Point, Albert Park, Warwick Junction, Greyville, Victoria Embankment, Beachfront, Greater Kings Parl, Umngeni Corridor and the Central Business District ( CBD).

Mbhele outlined the inner city challenges which included crime and grime, abandoned and invaded buildings, migration of businesses out of the area, traffic congestion, informal traders and road safety especially for pedestrians.

The focus of the regeneration strategy is conducting a situational analysis, based on the existing work, redefining the role of the Durban CBD in relation to the port interface, urban growth and regeneration as well developing a vision with broad strategic policies.

Other areas of focus include identifying short, medium and long term development goals as well as developing Land Use Framework and identifying associated infrastructure.

Introducing building controls and By-Laws and enforcing compliance with the building control regulations is another area of focus.

The Problem Building By-Law 2015, which was adopted by Council on 24 June 2015 and recently passed and accepted as law is one way of addressing this issue.

The By-Law targets “problem buildings” which have been invaded, abandoned or leased out as slums.

Focus of the strategy will be done in phases. The first is producing an inception report taking into account stakeholder mapping, the budget, the programme and appointing a consultant team.

The second phase is the Local Area Plan and high level precinct plans.

This will include preparation, workshops and drafting and reviewing plans.

Phase three of the regeneration plan includes listing existing and new projects, conducting an assessment against the Local Area Plan and precinct plans, infrastructure and traffic implications, project business case for a few selected projects and looking at funding potential.

The three areas to be targeted first are Warwick, Centrum site and the Point which would have a catalytic effect on surrounding areas.

Mbhele also mentioned a benchmarking exercise undertaken in Australia in June to learn best practices to rejuvenate eThekwini’s inner city.

The team visited six cities namely Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Cairns, Sydney and Gold Coast.

The reason for the visit was that some of these cities reflect similarities to Durban and each had something unique for Durban to learn from.

While they experienced challenges they had a number of positive developments Durban could learn from including master planning the way Sydney achieved its vision. The master planning process identified catalysts tourism and waterfront development in critical locations for the Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour and Pyrmont Waterfronts.

The integration of the major sporting precinct with the City in Adelaide was noted. There the sporting precincts were successfully integrated with the City Centre through the green belt. The public spaces were also used to connect events at the stadium. The stadiums in Adelaide and Melbourne were used for multiple sporting codes which ensured 100% occupation.

Recommendations from the benchmarking visit include undertaking a feasibility studies on connecting the Umgeni River and the sea up to the harbour mouth for the use of ferries, introducing light rail system in the inner City connecting the Airport with the Durban Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and developing precinct plans for waterfronts.

A website will soon be up and running, solely dedicated to this project. There will also be a platform for residents to give their opinion on what they want Durban to be as they are a vital stakeholder to the City.

The presentation was welcomed by the Executive Committee who praised the Development, Planning and Management Unit’s efforts to rejuvenate the inner City.

EThekwini Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo said it was a good initiative and asked that something similar to be done for the CBD in Isipingo where a number of people were migrating.

Chairwoman of the Finance and Procurement Committee Fawzia Peer said the inner City reflected negatively or positively to visitors, which is why it is important to improve the look of it.

“Tourists stay in CBD hotels and visit a number of amenities in the area. The state of the inner City says what the City is about. It is most vital that we address this especially by reclaiming derelict and abandoned buildings.”

HARD WORK BEGINS NOW AS CITY PREPARES FOR 2022 COMMONWEALTH GAMES

Still euphoric following the announcement that Durban would be the host City for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo announced that the City would host a formal celebration bringing together all stakeholders involved in ensuring that Durban was named the host City for the Games.

He said the hard work started now as the City began preparations to host the Games.

He told the Executive Committee that the trip to New Zealand was successful with congratulatory messages pouring in from across the board. All the well-wishers agreed that the Games were good for Durban, South Africa and Africa as a whole.

“It is good news for us but the hard work starts now. We mustn’t think that we have time to waste because the event is seven years away. This is another legacy coming to our shores. It will be good for our economic and infrastructure development. It will also promote social cohesion and nation building,” he said.

The Mayor said this was something that comes around once in a lifetime and was a great opportunity for the City.

“We must host a formal celebration as this is a huge achievement. It is a victory for the City and should be celebrated. The celebration will bring all stakeholders together who played an integral role in securing the rights to host the Games, including officials from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, National and KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports, members of the Olympics Committee as well as eThekwini officials. We will also discuss the programme to prepare for the Games going forward including establishing structures like a local organising committee,” Nxumalo said.

Details of the event are still being finalised.

City Manager Sibusiso Sithole said going forward strategies would be put in place to ensure the City was ready to host the Games.

CITY DEDICATED TO SERVICE DELIVERY

The City is dedicated to providing quality services to all residents. In doing so, it has also taken a tough stance on those who default on their payments, putting the burden on paying ratepayers.

There are Municipal structures in place to assist defaulters make payments.

This information was contained in a Back to Basics Report for June which was presented to the Executive Committee today, 08 September 2015.

This report is submitted to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) on a monthly basis to assist in the analysis of the state of local governance in the country. This assists Cogta to make informed assessments to support and intervene where necessary in municipalities.

In eThekwini in June 2015, 685 250 households received electricity. In the same month 15 933households had electricity disconnected while 422 households were connected and received electricity for the first time.

During June 893 420 households received water, however 10 018 households had their water disconnected. During the same period 4 258 households were connected to the water system for the first time.

Monthly, 962 031 households receive free basic water while 113 277 households receive free basic electricity in the Municipality.

Demonstrating the tough stance the Municipality has adopted against fraud and corruption, 38 fraud and disciplinary cases were heard in June.

There were two dismals during this month for fraud and corruption as well as a number of sanctions against perpetrators found guilty of this offence.

A Back to Basics trend for January to June 2015 also presented to the Executive Committee shows the Municipality is accelerating service delivery.

Hundreds of households received new electricity connections as well as being connected to the water system for the first time.

The Municipality is increasing capacity as over 4 200 households received water in June, an increase from 849 households the previous month, and 1 212 households being connected in April 2015.

MAYOR TO TRAVEL TO UNITED KINGDOM TO STRENGTHEN RELATIONS AND SHARE BEST PRACTICE

The Executive Committee today, 08 September 2015 approved a proposal for EThekwini Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo, or his nominated representative, along with two nominated Executive Committee members and five officials to lead a business delegation to Newcastle Upon Tyne in North East England.

They will participate in the North East England and South Africa Trade and Co-operation Conference from 28 September 2015 to 4 October 2015.

EThekwini Municipality and Newcastle Upon Tyne signed a Memorandum of Agreement in January 2015 to further co-operation between the two cities and regions. While the North east Chamber of Commerce and the Durban Chamber of Commerce signed an agreement to accelerate trade between the regions.

The purpose of the delegation including government, businesses and the private sector will ensure bilateral meetings, business matchmaking, support skills training and identify investment opportunities.

Durban Tourism will use the opportunity to do activations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games through brand awareness at event venues.