Park Station Precinct – African Food and Culture Hub

Plans are under way to turn Park Station into a gateway to Africa, with a public place that is a celebration of African food and culture, and a safe night-time activity zone around a public square.

Read more: Park Station Precinct – African Food and Culture Hub

The JDA acknowledges city improvement milestones

inner-city milestone

The Johannesburg Development Agency has identified three must-haves - leadership, partnerships and management - for sustained inner city improvement.

The three keys to inner city regeneration that emerge from 2006-2011 are:

Leadership by local government

The vision for inner city regeneration permeates all municipal structures –from the Executive Mayor down to directorates within the municipal departments, municipal entities such as the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and regional substructures such as Region F’s Urban Management Department.

The municipality’s role is to champion inner city regeneration, to create certainty by providing structured development plans and guidelines, to fund developments in the public interest, and to facilitate implementing strategic projects. This leadership improves confidence in the inner city, which naturally results in other role players, such as private-sector property developers and community organisations, participating. Most importantly, the City’s role is to facilitate removing obstacles where other stakeholders initiate urban regeneration projects.

Inclusive partnerships

The impact of urban regeneration initiatives has been remarkable in cases where local government, the private sector and community organisations have worked together. It is clear that genuine and lasting urban regeneration cannot be achieved by any party on its own, but only through collaboration with all stakeholders in the inner city.

Establishing and managing City Improvement Districts (CIDs) can be singled out as catalytic for inner city regeneration. As significant have been the JDA’s area-based interventions – followed by even more significant private sector investment in these areas.

Urban management is essential

Rolling out ambitious projects, even those involving large-scale investment, is not enough to sustain urban regeneration in the long term. Instead, sustainability depends on managing and maintaining improved city spaces and places. Therefore, forming a dedicated Urban Management Department within Region F should be heralded as a landmark development for the inner city’s positive future. In the next decade it is probably urban management models’ effectiveness, rather than flagship investment projects, which will determine whether inner city generation can be sustained.

During the last decade significant progress has been made in the six key performance areas identified in the Inner City Charter, most importantly:

  • Urban management safety and security

A dedicated urban management department has been created for Region F while City Improvement Districts have been established and expanded. Notably, a concerted effort has been made to tackle bad buildings.

  • Public spaces, arts, culture and heritage

A most noticeable aspect of inner city regeneration has been upgrading public environments and parks, as well as rolling out public art installations throughout the city. These artworks are physical manifestations of the inner city’s economic upturn.

  • Economic development

Significant public and private investments have been made in the inner city in the past 10 years, however even more needs to be done to attract investment in large-scale property developments that support agglomeration economics and transit-oriented development. There is also a need to ensure that local economic development strategies reach the informal economy, a key part of city life.

Westgate Station Precinct

westgate precinct

A unique opportunity exists to create a gateway to the Joburg inner city through the Westgate precinct, a multimodal public transport hub.

 

The Westgate Station Precinct, in the south-western corner of the Johannesburg Inner City, is centred on a multimodal public transport interchange.

It includes the Westgate train station, which is owned and operated by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa; two Rea Vaya stations, Joburg’s Bus Rapid Transit service; a minibus taxi rank; and holding facilities for Metrobus, Joburg’s bus service, as well as privately owned national long distance buses and cross border buses.

Westgate is also strategically located south of the Newtown Cultural Precinct, west of the Main Street Mall upgrade, and adjacent to the Chinatown and Diagonal Street upgrades, all carried out by the JDA in previous years. The transport interchange is surrounded by several large parcels of vacant and underdeveloped land – some of the last within the Inner City – which are mostly privately owned.

The area offers a unique opportunity to create a visual and physical gateway to Joburg’s Inner City. It can be transformed into a high intensity, transit-oriented development node, with the main strategic focus being public transport users and private property investment, as well as being a gateway.

Inkanyeli Properties has been awarded the development lease for the Westgate Station.

In 2011/12, the JDA implemented the first phase of the three-year project, which involved a Traffic Impact Assessment of the entire node, based on the spatial development framework; a conceptual design of the area that identified design standards; the design of a heritage trail through the precinct, connecting to the Newtown Heritage Trail; and Phase 1 detailed design and implementation of identified initiatives.

Phase 2, undertaken in 2012/13, continued on a block-by-block basis by implementing the full range of public environment upgrade initiatives for selected street blocks. It included a heritage walking trail with a connection to the Newtown trail, and a new sculpture was commissioned diagonally opposite Chancellor House on Fox Street.

A third phase of work is being designed for 2013/14, which will comprise the continuation of the public environment upgrade along selected streets; however, the focus will be on upgrading Westgate Rank.

Given the strategic nature of the Westgate node, an in-depth planning exercise is under way. It includes establishing current and proposed transport operations, to ensure sensible changes to the rank, which will be aligned to the strategic vision for transport in the Inner City. The role of Westgate in the overall Inner City taxi and bus transport system needs to be considered in terms of the longer term strategic planning for public transport facilities contained in the Inner City Transport Study.