New era beckons as Alex Master Plan process is launched

New era beckons as Alex Master Plan process is launchedThe JDA introduces Alex residents, business owners, development forums and property owners to the concept and principles behind the project to finalise the Alexandra Urban Development Framework (UDF). (Photo: Elias Nkabinde - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)

The process to kick-start the redevelopment of Alexandra got under way on Wednesday, 23 March as the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) launched the project to finalise the guiding document for this priority redevelopment. Elias Nkabinde reports.

JDA Chief Executive Officer Thanduxolo MendrewJDA Chief Executive Officer Thanduxolo Mendrew speaks at the launch. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)The Alexandra Urban Development Framework (UDF), also known as the Alex Master Plan, will be a vital strategic document for Alexandra and the City of Joburg as a whole, and the full participation of the Alex community will be crucial to the speed of its implementation and the success of its outcomes.

Community participation vital

Presenting the project to the community at the Alexsan Kopano Multi-Purpose Centre in Alexandra on Wednesday, JDA Chief Executive Officer Thanduxolo Mendrew said it was "an opportunity for residents, business owners, development forums and property owners to have their say on the future development of Alexandra.

"We cannot begin to regenerate an area as dense as Alexandra without agreement between the developers and the community," Mendrew said.

"The opportunity is now officially open to everyone in the community to raise their concerns, distresses, hopes and expectations, so that we might understand what kind of a future we envision for Alexandra."

The first in a series of community consultationsWednesday's launch was the first in a series of consultations that the JDA will be conducting with the community. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)The 104-year-old township has long been characterised by scarcity of land, homelessness and a high rate of unemployment, and stands in sharp contrast to its wealthy neighbour Sandton, which is sometimes referred to as "Africa's richest square mile".

Crucial strategic document

The Alexandra UDF will finally eradicate slum conditions, turning the township into a socially and economically viable, high-density urban settlement.

The document will not only direct proper spatial planning and sustainable development of the area, but crucially will also streamline the process of mobilising and securing funding commitments across all three spheres of government, local, provincial and national.

The proposed guiding principles for formulation of the Alexandra UDF are to:

  • Create a holistic vision, with easily understood principles for development, that is supported by the community.
  • Demonstrate how best an entire community can be involved in the strategic and management processes of urban planning.
  • Reflect the City's response to the principles, policies and strategies as charted by national, provincial and local government to better the lives of communities, and to promote economic and social growth and sustainable development in Alexandra.

Professional team to guide the process

Nyiko Gudlhuza, a member of the JDA's Alex UDF teamNyiko Gudlhuza, a member of the multi-disciplinary team of skilled professionals and community liaison officers that the JDA has engaged to work with the community in creating the Alexandra UDF. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)The JDA will lead the process of securing comprehensive, inclusive community participation and co-production of solutions for the future of Alex.

"This is the beginning of several meetings between the JDA's professional team and the Alexandra community to discuss various aspects, such as economic development, spatial transformation, and the provision of human settlements," Mendrew said.

He added that the JDA expected the draft Alexandra UDF to be completed by June 2016, at which point it will be taken up for discussion and deliberation within local, provincial and national government structures.

The final Alexandra UDF is expected to be signed off by December 2016, paving the way for the redevelopment of Alexandra to begin in earnest in 2017.