The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) shared with the public its draft precinct plans for the redevelopment of Norwood’s Grant Avenue at the second annual Love Norwood Day event on Sunday, 31 July. Rudo Mungoshi reports.

The Love Norwood day event, organised by the Norwood Orchard Residents Association (NORA) attracted local residents, visitors to the neighbourhood, musicians, resident businesses and community organisations who had flocked to Norwood Park for a day of fun and festivities.

Norwood is a suburb bordering Orange Grove and Houghton. It is one of the more popular dining spots in the city and is well known for its “celebrated restaurants”, mainly based on Grant Avenue.

Visitors packed the JDA’s walk up stall where they had a sneak peek of what the future of Grant Avenue precinct would look like, presented in the form of maps and pictures.

The presentation came after a series of public engagements the JDA has had with the residents who voiced their concerns and expectations for the precinct and offered suggestions as to how the space could be used and defined.

The process related largely to traffic interventions around the intersections, with the aim of prioritising pedestrians and calming traffic, making Grant Avenue into a “slow street”. This included extending the pavement in certain areas and reinforcing the gateways.

ASM Architects & Urban Designers have been commissioned by the JDA to help produce the precinct plan for Grant Avenue. Monica Albonico of ASM Architects & Urban Designers said the reason they were participating in the Love Norwood Day fair was to display information for local residents who might not know about it and reinforce what they are trying to achieve.

Matt Jackson, JDA Development Facilitation Project Manager explains the draft precinct plan to one of the visitors“The residents are excited by the idea of revitalising the street, upgrading the park and by the possibilities that streets can be properly managed and made safer for people to walk at night and come to the restaurants and enjoy Grant Avenue ,” said Albonico.

Albonico said she was pleased with the feedback from the community on the draft precinct plans. The plan has already gone through two design workshops and a ‘test phase day’, all of which involved interaction with residents. The draft precinct plan is still to be approved by the City.

JDA development facilitation project manager, Matt Jackson described the response as positive. “We deliberately tried to incorporate parts of the community in the formulation of the plan. What we have reflected has come through. I think for the most part the plan has been well received and is really straight forward and self-explanatory,” said Jackson. “People are excited about the potential of what might happen in the future.”

One of the residents of the Norwood who passed through JDA’s stand, Cheyne Butler, described the Grant Avenue precinct plan as a great idea. “I like the fact that they are going to make it easier and safer for us to walk around Grant Avenue and access the shops,” Butler said.

“I think it is a great idea, I hope it will be successful,” said Isabella Holden another resident of Norwood suburb. Holden said she hoped work would start as soon as the plans were approved.