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Joburg rate rebates to spur redevelopment along Corridors of Freedom

Joburg's BRT system is based on Brazil's Curitiba bus rapid transit programme.

The City of Joburg is offering 20% to 25% rebates over three years (it started in 2014/15) to repurpose its inner city.

Asking prices for land in the Johannesburg CBD have escalated from R1,500/m² to R10,000/m² over the past 12 years in response to public-private initiatives to rehabilitate the city, and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) predicts much the same will happen along the city’s new transport routes, principally its Corridors of Freedom, where the Johannesburg City Council is planning high-density, mixed-use development.

To spur development, JDA executive manager for development facilitation, Christo Botes, says the council is offering a substantial rate rebate to property owners along the three corridors designed to overcome apartheid-era town planning.

No one has yet taken up the rebate, he adds, principally because they are unaware of it. The council will extend the tax rebates through the national treasury’s Urban Development Zone initiative, which he expects could take some time.

Developers in the meantime, with a few exceptions, are keeping their cards close to their chest, Botes reports, but opportunities for new builds and repurposing existing buildings are plentiful. The plan is for the city to offer earmarked land for redevelopment on the open market in certain places and to this end it has developed Strategic Area Frameworks in consultation with stakeholders. It is now currently engaged in devising more detailed precinct plans for areas close to the corridors, so they too benefit from the spinoffs of the corridors.

The political vision of Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau, based on a planning concept and embarked upon in 2012, is to integrate low-, middle- and high-income earners through transport-led, high-density redevelopment along the corridors. The long-term plan until 2040, expected to reshape the metropole, is to stitch up the city and overcome its north-south divide.

In essence the rapid bus transit system, known as the Reya Vaya, is paving the way for the corridors. In addition to the two-lane routes – a single lane for buses and vehicles each – the city is laying bulk infrastructure for anticipated higher-density development, of four to seven storeys. Densities are expected to be higher at the stations with high-rise residential developments.

Credit: Creative Commons

Brazil’s Curitiba rapid bus system, on which the Corridors of Freedom programme is based.

The transport system, modelled on Curitaba in Columbia – an example followed by most cities Botes points out – consists of three principal routes:

  • In the medium term, these are Louis Botha Avenue linking the inner city to Alexandra and eventually Sandton and Randburg 
    The Louis Botha route.

    The Louis Botha route.

  • The Turffontein Corridor in the south
    The Turfontein route.

    The Turfontein route.

  • The Empire-Perth Road (Perth is a continuation of Empire) to join Hillbrow with the SABC, the University of Johannesburg and Noordgezicht in the west.
    The Empire-Perth route.

    The Empire-Perth route.

With the corridors will come the upgrade of the public environment, including pavements and street furniture. The JDA is also looking to roll out city-wide incubated urban management services wherever it is engaged. This will include cleaning and security services, and maintenance of the public spaces.

Incorporated into the city’s rehabilitation plan is its partnering with local stakeholders with the council undertaking the upgrading of social facilities such as libraries, clinics and police stations, and the development of social housing.

Urban management also takes in the partnering with local communities to form city improvement districts (CIDs) and to this end Botes points out that Norwood residents, for example, have already started to form their own CID.

The general plan in this area, also by way of an example, is to link the redevelopment of Patterson Park with Grant Avenue in Norwood. Precinct plans for each of these areas are due for completion in mid-2016.

Further along Louis Botha, a precinct plan is also being undertaken for Balfour Park. The city is here engaged with landowners, developers, businesses and residents.

Botes says there are detailed Strategic Area Frameworks, approved by council after extensive consultation with local communities, for each of the corridors. These are available for viewing on the city council’s website. Precinct plans, which are developed, are the next level of planning which go into even more detail for a very targeted and specific area. These begin to address the implementation and operationalisation of the land use, socio-economic, infrastructure provision and urban management aspects of the Strategic Area Frameworks.

 

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Alison Goldberg is the former property editor of Business Day (1985) and the Financial Mail (1991-99). In 1995 she won the Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year Award. She has edited such titles as National Constructor and The Miner in Australia and has freelanced for The Star, The South African Jewish Report and The Jerusalem Post.

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