Focus on Randburg


The taxi rank will form part of a mixed use developmentThe taxi rank will form part of a mixed use development

Randburg continues to receive deserved attention from the City, with the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) working hard to restore the central business district to its former glory.

The JDA plans to intensify efforts to regenerate and develop this economic node, following the approval of the Randburg central business district Urban Development Framework (UDF) by the City council in July 2010.

"The new UDF recommends the redevelopment of the civic precinct property as a catalytic development that should serve as a significant transit-oriented node and optimise the use of this well-located property," said the executive manager of planning and strategy at the JDA, Sharon Lewis.

"This is particularly interesting in light of the medium-term plan to establish Randburg as the terminus for the Rea Vaya trunk route that is intended to run from Alexandra through Sandton to Randburg."

The precinct, which will be the major development of the framework, is bounded by Jan Smuts Avenue on the east, Bram Fischer Drive to the west and Selkirk Avenue to the south.

It was intended to be rolled out as a public-private partnership between the City of Johannesburg and a private developer, and the JDA recently advertised a tender for transaction advisers to support the project, said Lewis.

Also identified as an important component of the Urban Development Framework, is the need to expand affordable and well-maintained housing.

Social housing similar to Brickfields is on the cards for RandburgSocial housing similar to Brickfields is on the cards for Randburg

A proposal to divide the civic property into two separate projects was approved by the council in November 2010. The first section will include the Selkirk Avenue social housing development by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco), while the second, larger section will be made up of a mixed-use property development that will be able to house municipal and social services, including the taxi rank, Bus Rapid Transit facility, the library, the licensing department and more affordable housing.

Joshco’s development on this section of land is "defined by the smallest possible sized property that can accommodate 350 affordable rental units in a four-storey walk-up format", said Rory Gallocher, the managing director of Joshco. "This is the most cost-effective format that can support sound social housing operating and management practices."

The Selkirk social housing development can be compared to Brickfields in Newtown, as this kind of project offers people with low-paying jobs housing opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

People will be able to rent a flat that is close enough to walk or take a short Rea Vaya bus ride to work, instead of living on the periphery of the city and spending a significant portion of time and income on transport.

"The benefits of this shift in the structure of the city go well beyond the immediate and direct quality of life improvements for the tenants; they also begin to make our city more energy-efficient, less congested and more equitable. Finally, they will bring spending power to an economically depressed neighbourhood," said Lewis.