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.