Making Cape Town One of the Most Connected and Green Cities | Western Cape Government


Making Cape Town One of the Most Connected and Green Cities

11 February 2010

Good morning:

The mission of the Provincial Government and City Council is to make Cape Town one of the most ambitious, connected and green cities in the world in which both our own people and world counterparts will be impressed.

Regeneration, admittedly not one of the sexiest words, is the core component of how we will achieve this. The concept is to reinvigorate the urban area and build livable communities for all.

Many factors contribute to the creation of a great city / city state. Iconic buildings that organically grace the landscape, such as our new Cape Town Stadium; the abundance of green space and the nurturing of heritage sites in our city are all factors in the unique lyrical construction of a space and a place to be proud of, and most importantly, for us all to be happy in.

The opportunities are boundless. All that is required is some innovative, joined-up thinking and generous doses of political will. Let me give you an example. In the city, for instance, we are trying to boost tourism by promoting the film industry.

Cities are falling over themselves too woo lights, cameras and action to their streets by offering generous financial incentives and tax breaks. Films like Roman Holiday, Manhattan and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, have starred cities as central characters rather than mere backdrops. I want us to start looking at how we utilise our properties to do the same for Cape Town. The key is joined-up thinking.

It is abundantly clear that the property portfolio of the provincial government in downtown Cape Town - the inner city - provides a golden opportunity to improve the central city infrastructure and transform the city for generations to come.

The aim of the provincial government is to create the right conditions for business to flourish, not to run business. Business is not the business of government.

The property portfolio will provide the initial financial leverage for the regeneration project.

Our aim, simply put, is to use public sector assets to unleash investment by the private sector. This state-led initiative will, by 2014, regenerate the Cape Town CBD as the catalyst to propel Cape Town forward as a great global city.

The definition of a great global city is informed by measurements such as public transport, education, cultural outlets, crime, hours of sunshine and global flight connections. By 2014, I want Cape Town to be making a very strong and alluring case for being one of the most livable urban centres in the world.

What are the specific aims of the regeneration project?

The portfolio properties will be integrated and managed as a single asset. The province and the city are in discussions with Transnet, National Department of Public Works and Intersite to form a solid partnership.

Regeneration will push back the frontiers of the central city and develop it by adding infrastructure and higher density.

It will promote social solidarity by creating mixed use and mixed income neighbourhoods. This will, in turn, reduce the class barriers between the rich and poor. This is in line with international thinking such as UNESCO's MOST (Management of Social Transformations programme).

A word about the streetscape here, which, I believe, should be the beating heart of a neighbourhood. Across the world, all too often planners, architects and developers get it wrong - they build too high, too dense (or not dense enough) and, worst of all, create monotonous street facades that alienate both visitors and residents.

As part of regeneration, I want to see the city block repositioned as one that functions as a stand-alone community with its own identity supported by a mix of businesses and community minded brands, coffee shops, galleries, communal residential halls and restaurants. This, needless to say, will be easily accessed by our planned integrated transport system with excellent train and bus connections. I guess we want, if you will, to bring a little bit of Kloof Street down town.

It will provide space for efficient and, you the taxpayer will be pleased to hear, small and smart government.

It will bolster upgraded public transport - I see Melbourne has just launched the world's first carbon free tram for example - and public spaces.

It will promote competition by increasing the number and range of affordable, well-located residential accommodation. I am concerned that only the well-off can rent or buy downtown.

It will drive economic growth and continually reinvigorate government's income stream for decades, possibly centuries.

The MEGA Project will also be one of the most environmentally sensitive regenerations projects in the world. It will promote ecologically sustainable urban development with low carbon energy systems, green building design, water-wise infrastructure to recycle and reuse solid and liquid wastes, as well as maintain the city's world renowned biodiversity.

In addition to this, the city centre can be further enhanced by dividing the designed properties into the smallest practical units to allow the widest diversity of enterprises to participate. In this way, many more people have an opportunity to participate in regeneration.

Another spin-off will be the establishment of a development programme which will be self-funding after the initial urban design.

This is not a stand-alone project: it is designed to complement and dovetail with existing plans and projects such as, for example, the upgrading of the railway station and Grand Parade, the East City design initiative, the Integrated Rapid Transport System, the Green City Programme and to expand the CTICC which is facing stiff competition, not least from Durban.

Regeneration will also take cognisance of the areas close to downtown such as the East Precinct, Table Bay, District 6, Woodstock and Salt River and the N1 corridor to Bellville.

Most importantly, regeneration has the political support of the Premier and Mayor who, I know, will champion it with vigour and élan.

In time, we envisage that regeneration will spill over into the rest of the province, not unlike the bay area of San Francisco which is comparable in so many ways to Cape Town, where there is ample space.

Let me touch briefly on the nuts and bolts of the MEGA Project. The Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) constituted of a core membership drawn from the province's four higher learning institutions have established a reference group to provide us with a blueprint to translate this bold vision into reality. We anticipate Phase 1 will be ready by mid April.

Our vision is clear, and some elements are already in place. A combination of decent and affordable housing, an impeccable public transport system, a well-connected airport, an iconic mountain at its core, great entertainment and our diverse population will make for a solid start.

Now let the hard work will commence.

Media Enquiries: 

Solly Malatsi
Media Liaison Officer
Ministry of Transport and Public Works
Western Cape Provincial Government
Cell: 083 641 9691
Tel: 021 483 8954