Joburg City breaking free from apartheid planning

Nel tauDeputy Minister Andries Nel and City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau (image: @NationalCoGTA)

At the Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau has said that the City is forging ahead with its Corridors of Freedom project, to bring residents to jobs, and jobs to residents.

Addressing local and international delegates at the Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference, at Turbine Hall in Newtown on 5 March, Johannesburg executive mayor, Mpho Parks Tau, said "Joburg is en-route to build a city that is compact and improves liveability and achieves resilience and sustainability through its spatial vision."

The conference, running from 4 to 6 March at venues across Johannesburg, invites urban development practitioners, strategists, analysts, investors, urban planners, and designers, among others, to investigate and discuss how to build better, more equitable and more sustainable cities.

Parks said the City of Johannesburg had adopted "Corridors of Freedom" as an indication of its commitment to spatial transformation to "reshape urban form in the city and construct a future city that is inclusive, equitable and accessible".

"We will achieve this by creating more mixed-use, higher density neighbourhoods that provide a range of options for good quality affordable housing; easy access to reliable and affordable public transport; and access to economic opportunities."

Tau said the Corridors would be high-intensity corridors that "promote and strengthen linkages and connectedness to different parts of the city".

"They will be anchored on mixed land-use transit development nodes or precincts [transit-orientated developments] linked by an extensive public transport network of bus and passenger rail."

These precincts would all have high-density, mixed-income and typology housing; social services and amenities such as clinics, parks and schools; streets that include attractive spaces such as pedestrian walkways and cycling lanes; and economic opportunities around the transit infrastructure.

The City will work closely with the Johannesburg Development Agency to create a city that encourages an improved quality of life.

Capital funding for infrastructure

"The primary tool the City of Joburg has to catalyse the development of transit-orientated developments is the ability to spend public capital funds on infrastructure and public environment upgrading … we have begun to take the first steps towards our target of spending in excess of

R100-billion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years," Tau said.

"In the 2013/14 medium-term Budget a capital budget of over R17-billion has been allocated for the next three years."

The City of Johannesburg intends to:

  • Move people closer to jobs by regenerating key economic nodes such as the Johannesburg inner city and transit-orientated precincts, to enable these areas to accommodate a greater agglomeration of economic activity, significant increases in high-density affordable housing, and more intense land use.
  • Move jobs closer to people by developing selected nodes in marginalised areas to stimulate local economies, increase competitiveness, and broaden access to markets and jobs.
  • Link jobs and people by developing high-density movement corridors anchored by transit nodes to restructure the city, and promote efficient land use and transport energy consumption.

According to Tau, the 21st century has been acknowledged as an "Urban Century", as for the first time in history, more people live in cities.

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations October 2013 report says, "In 1950, only three of every ten people lived in cities. In 2008, the number of people in cities was greater than that in rural areas for the first time…By 2030, over 2 billion people may well be living in urban slums."

The Oxford Martin School supports more than 300 researchers to help solve pressing global issues, such as exponential urban growth.

The Urban Century

The most rapid growth in urban population occurs in developing countries, with Africa and Asia leading the pack; "Therefore, no African government and certainly no African metropolitan region of the size of Johannesburg, can afford to ignore this inevitable urban changeover," said Tau.

Statistics South Africa's Census 2011 reported that Joburg's population grew by 3.18% from 3.2 million in 2001, to 4.4 million people, affirming that Joburg is the largest city in the country.

These figures are made up of primarily youth between the ages of 15 and 39. The number of households in the city also increased from 1 million in 2001 to 1.4 million in 2011.

Based on current trends, it is expected that Joburg's population will double to more than 8 million people by 2040.

Tau explained that "Understanding both the age and anticipated growth of the city's population will assist in planning for the future demand for services as well as economic and job opportunities … we have realised that there can be no doubt that the rapid changes to the size of Johannesburg's population will continue and that we need to proactively confront these realities.

"We need ensure that our plans and strategies are relevant to the daily experiences of all the city's residents."

According to the National Development Plan (NDP), "where we live and work matters", and "Apartheid planning consigned the majority of South Africans to places far away from work, where services could not be sustained, and where it was difficult to access the benefits of society and participation in the economy."

The NDP also mentions bold measures and strategies to deal with the challenge of apartheid geography and create the conditions for more humane – and environmentally sustainable – environments for people to work and play in.

Tau said, "In this regard, Johannesburg embarked on the development of the now internationally acclaimed Growth and Development Strategy (GDS 2040), which takes the long-term view and sets out how that vision will be progressively realised."

The GDS 2040 restates that the City must break free from the apartheid-structured city into a resilient, sustainable and liveable one that is underpinned by inclusive economic growth.

"Our sprawling city is also a divided city, with places of work and economic opportunities that are far from where the majority of the population lives.

"A resilient city is one that is able to chart a different path in solving complex and unanticipated problems. It involves adapting and shaping development in order to improve the City's position through structural change in pursuit of equality … restructuring the city morphology has to be the priority.

"Our Corridors of Freedom project will be making a real difference in the lives and prospects of future generations of Johannesburg residents," Tau concluded.