Council approved the City of Cape Town’s revised Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP) earlier this week. The BEPP directs where the City is to spend its capital budget in the next financial year – these are the investments in major capital projects and interventions to address the legacy of apartheid spatial planning.
Broadly speaking, the BEPP reflects the City’s strategic intent for the next 12 months. It directs the City’s capital investment to projects which aim to transform Cape Town’s spatial reality through the creation of public transport corridors and the delivery of affordable housing on well-located land close to job opportunities.
As of 1 July 2017, the City will spend the bulk of its R6,8 billion capital budget on projects located within three integration zones across Cape Town. Given that we are using public transport to achieve a more compact, efficient and sustainable city, it only makes sense that Cape Town’s major public transport corridors form the backbone of these integration zones.
As such, much of the BEPP is focused on these three integration zones (IZs) and their importance in transforming the City’s spatial structure by:
- linking Khayelitsha and Kuils River by rail
- linking the metro-south east and the Cape Town CBD with improved road-based public transport
- linking the Bellville, Maitland, Parow, Goodwood and Salt River CBDs with the Cape Town CBD via the Voortrekker Road corridor
By prioritising dense, transit-oriented growth and development in these IZs, the City seeks to create more inclusive communities with access to improved services, job opportunities, and affordable housing and public transport.
The City, in line with their transit-oriented development strategic framework (TODSF), identify housing opportunities closer to the MyCiTi stations and rail stations in these integration zones. Providing affordable housing closer to where people work or close to public transport is non-negotiable. In so doing, the City will create a more integrated and inclusive city where residents have equal access to opportunities.
The BEPP also emphasises the capital investment required from the Provincial and National Governments and State-owned entities to transform Cape Town’s spatial form and to address the dire need for housing and the high cost of public transport.
The first integration zone prioritised in the BEPP is the Blue Downs IZ which is premised on the commitment by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa to invest in a R5 billion double-track rail link of approximately 9 km between the Nolungile station in Khayelitsha and the Kuils River station, with three new stations in between, namely Mfuleni, Blue Downs and Wimbledon.
The objective of the second IZ – the metro-south east integration zone (MSEIZ) – is to spatially link Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha with the Cape Town central business district.
Nearly 40% of Cape Town’s population reside in the MSEIZ: it has the highest densities in the city – above 100 units/ha – and is home to the largest concentration of people considered most vulnerable in terms of income, wealth, education and access to basic services.
It therefore makes sense that the City prioritizes their expenditure to stimulate economic activity and development in this area. As is indicated in the BEPP, up to R2,4 billion will be spent on capital projects in the MSEIZ by all spheres of government from the current financial year up to 2018/19.
The imminent roll-out of Phase 2A of the MyCiTi service to Wynberg and Claremont is central to the MSEIZ. In terms of their transit-oriented development strategic framework, the City will either invest in the improvement of existing public transport infrastructure in the metro-south east, or in new public transport infrastructure such as in Philippi East to ignite urban renewal, economic growth, and job creation. By establishing networks of activity along this priority transport corridor, the City will begin to address the lack of formal industrial and commercial development in the Cape Flats.
Similar principles apply to the Voortrekker Road Corridor Integration Zone (VRCIZ) which hosts the business districts of Bellville, Maitland, Parow, Goodwood and Salt River.
There is significant potential for renewal and redevelopment given the excellent location of the VRCIZ and the diverse range of land uses in terms of residential, commercial, retail, industrial and public facilities. The central areas have enormous potential for employment and skills development, but are in desperate need of regeneration.
The City will focus on the spatial restructuring of the VRCIZ by addressing the public transport capacity constraints and freight movement along Voortrekker Road and the inefficient and unproductive use of public land.
Bellville is Cape Town’s second CBD, with five hospitals and three university campuses located within the central area. The campuses and student population could serve as drivers of urban regeneration. The provision of affordable (social) rental housing is therefore a vital component of their strategy – first of all to prevent gentrification, secondly to achieve spatial transformation, and thirdly to ignite urban renewal.
The City will use the available public land and existing public transport infrastructure as a catalyst for the regeneration of these business districts.
Over the next two financial years the City will invest an estimated R1,4 billion in capital projects in the VRCIZ. By implementing the principles of our TODSF, they intend to create a sustainable living environment and economy – initiated by the City through investment in public transport and followed on by private investment in new developments in the immediate vicinity and surroundings of the public transport infrastructure.
The BEPP elaborates on the five priority projects within the three integration zones which have the greatest potential to spur development in terms of the City’s transformational priorities:
- Athlone Power Station redevelopment
- Revitalisation of the Bellville central area
- Development of the Foreshore Freeway Precinct
- Philippi East as part of the roll-out of Phase 2A of the MyCiTi service
These projects will be public-led regeneration catalysts for growth. The mere scale requires that the City kick-start the process, approvals and investment. They will be capital-intensive infrastructure projects with enormous job and skills development potential. The City expects the projects to attract private sector investment in utilities, housing, commercial and retail development.
Last year Council adopted the City’s new Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) which reoriented the administration to be more customer-centric. The BEPP has been adapted to mirror the focus on area-based service delivery and spatial transformation which must assist the City in alleviating poverty and inequality.
Ultimately, the outcomes will be measured in terms of improvements in urban productivity and mobility, inclusivity and sustainability, as well as in Cape Town’s ability to adapt to and overcome the challenges of rapid urbanisation.