GROWTH and development trends in Joburg were discussed at a presentation of the City’s Growth Management Strategy (GMS), which details where it is prepared to invest in infrastructure, in terms of medium and long-term priorities, to various stakeholders

On the table were comprehensive issues that were the lifeblood of growth and development. Discussions covered a spectrum of developmental challenges and considered development applications submitted to the City, property and economic indicators and projected capital investment.

The purpose of the GMS is to establish where development is taking place, at what rate and to check if it supports Joburg’s policies. Present at the gathering on 22 June to peruse and analyse the findings were academics, town planners, property developers, and officials from the National Treasury and Presidency.

Presenting the GMS, Peter Ahmad, the assistant director in Joburg’s development planning department, said the strategy sought to support the values and principles entailed in the City’s Growth and Development Strategy, Joburg 2040. These principles included ensuring social inclusivity in market-driven growth areas; aligning development to emerging public transport networks and infrastructure; and stimulating a diversity of development and economic opportunities in marginalised areas, those areas located far from job centres, social services and public transportation links.

Building applications

Speaking about development applications received between 2007 and 2011, Ahmad indicated that the peak of activity in terms of numbers of applications submitted for town planning and building related permissions was in 2008. Since then, there had been a steady decline in activity that only stabilised between 2010 and 2011.

He spoke about a worrying trend of office vacancies, particularly in the CBD, using information from South Africa Property Owners Association (Sapoa) reports. While office supply increased by almost 900 000 square metres in the years 2007 to 2011, almost a million square metres of space was vacant at the end of 2011.

There was also an urgent need to consider locations that were not monitored by Sapoa, for example Soweto and south of the CBD. Ahmad also illustrated the rise in residential property values in the years 2000 to 2011.

Areas where lower-end households could get a foot on the housing ladder were becoming increasingly scarce, he said, while showing the growth of formal and informal residential areas using aerial photographs. Included were Cosmo City, Blue Hills, Kaalfontein, Protea Glen and Poortijie.

There had also been significant growth of informal buildings in the last decade in the form of backyard rooms in formal housing, as well as new informal settlements being set up. Areas highlighted included Diepsloot, Msawana and Malatjie, between 2004 and 2011.

In conclusion, the gathering agreed that the presentation covered crucial areas, and said they would continue to work with the City on issues they thought were important. The full Growth Management Strategy is available online.