Involving the community in the redevelopment of Noordgesig

JDA Development Manager Shaakira Chohan interacts with community membersJDA Development Manager Shaakira Chohan interacts with community members at the Noordgesig Social Cluster roadshow. (Photo: Rudo Mungoshi - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)

Members of Soweto's Noordgesig community got an opportunity to share their views on developments they would like to see in their area at a roadshow hosted by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) on Friday, 11 March.

JDA, Akweni and GIBB staffers help community membersJDA, Akweni and GIBB staffers help community members to engage on projects planned for their area. (Photo: Rudo Mungoshi - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION).The roadshow, run in partnership with Akweni Project Management and engineering consultants GIBB, sought to gather and record ideas from the community in order to arrive at a joint vision for Noordgesig's future.

Strategically placed along Empire-Perth Corridor

The City of Joburg has allocated in the region of R41.5-million to the JDA to facilitate and oversee the redevelopment and improvement of what has been termed the Noordgesig Social Cluster.

Noordgesig was identified for redevelopment due to its proximity to Rea Vaya's Noordgesig bus rapid transit (BRT) station, and its strategic location along the emerging, soon to be renamed Empire-Perth Corridor of Freedom.

The 86-year-old suburb borders Orlando East and Diepkloof Zone 3, and faces a number of challenges both infrastructural and socio-economic, including a high rate of unemployment and substance abuse among its youth.

'Community involvement yields better outcomes'

Giving a voice to those who may feel they have noneThe project, says Shaakira Chohan, aims to give a voice 'to those who may feel they have none'. (Photo: Rudo Mungoshi - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION).JDA Development Manager Shaakira Chohan, who co-ordinated Friday's engagement, said the exercise aimed to encourage community members to get involved in the planning process for Noordgesig, and so to give voices "to those who may feel they have none".

By combining the inputs of City agencies, service providers and communities, "we can achieve an even higher level of outcome than by traditional service provision or self-help," Chohan said.

"It is built on the realisation that the production and consumption of many services are inseparable," she explained. "The quality and strength of a service and an effective design depends upon close interaction - if the community does not contribute fully and creatively to the process, it is likely to be less effective in its outcomes."

Gathering input on potential projects

The youth of Noordgesig made sure they were not left outThe youth of Noordgesig made sure they were not left out of the process. (Photo: Rudo Mungoshi - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION).As part of the engagement, the JDA presented and sought community comment on a number of potential projects, including the development of multi-storey housing units, cycling pathways, pedestrian-friendly connections to public transport hubs, and recreational parkland along both sides of the river, connected by pedestrian bridges.

Chohan said the roadshow was the first step in the planning process, and would be followed by three more community interactions before the final Noordgesig Social Cluster design was approved.

"Whatever design that we come up with at the end of the day must commemorate the heritage of the area," said Chohan. "We want people to take ownership of the project."

Francis Scheepers, one of the residents who participated in the engagement, said he was looking forward to seeing what developments came out of it. "The consultation is a good idea, and I hope they will embark on something significant in our community."