Living and getting around in inner city Johannesburg is set to become progressively easier and more pleasant over the coming years, with the newly launched Inner City Roadmap clearly outlining how the City intends to make this happen.

Metro Park in Newtown, JohannesburgThe JDA and Joburg City Parks and Zoo opened the R16-million Metro Park in the midst of the commercial and residential hub of Newtown in September 2014.Officially launched by Executive Mayor Parks Tau on Wednesday, 17 June, the Roadmap takes over from where the 2007-2012 Inner City Charter left off, providing a comprehensive, integrated, long-term strategy for shifting the City’s inner city regeneration drive up a gear.

Achieving a sustainable inner city, according to the Roadmap, will require better basic service provision, along with the promotion of green practices in waste management and water and energy use. It will also require establishing:

A safe, reliable public transport network, rationalised routes for cars and minibus taxis, and pleasant walking and cycling pathways.
A network of green public spaces decorated with public artworks, connected with safe pathways, and fitted out for exercising or relaxing in the open.
Since 2009, when Rea Vaya buses first began running along dedicated bus lanes between Soweto and the CBD, the City, and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) as one of the key implementing agencies, has laid the basis for achieving the above shift in Joburg’s transport patterns.

The Roadmap builds on this, focusing on ways of implementing the broader Joburg 2040 vision – in which walking, cycling and public transport are the modes of choice – in the inner city setting.

Guided by the Roadmap, the City will establish inner city transport hubs where pedestrians can move around and transfer easily from one transport mode to another, while concentrating housing, retail and other developments along the main transport routes.

Selected streets will be developed as “complete streets” that can comfortably be used by all road users, while certain streets will on certain days be closed to motor vehicles, giving cyclists and pedestrians freedom to relax and exercise.

The number of on- and off-street taxi facilities will be increased, while long-distance services will be consolidated close to Park Station, where significant precinct upgrading and redevelopment will be undertaken to make it easier to transfer between buses, taxis and trains.

Major projects that are already under way, including the expansion of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system, and initiatives to improve pedestrian accessibility in the inner city, will continue to be prioritised.

Further plans include creating dedicated routes for private vehicles and taxis, reducing on-street parking, and creating a route network for trolleys.

While making it easier for people to walk and cycle around in the inner city, the City will also, following the Roadmap, make meeting, relaxing and exercising outdoors in the inner city not just a viable option but an enjoyable experience.

It will do this by creating a network of open spaces and a large-scale park or series of parks for residents and visitors, while continuing its progamme of upgrading existing parks.

Five parks have been prioritised for upgrading over the next five years, while partnerships with community groupings and the private sector will be forged to ensure their ongoing maintenance.

Existing sport and recreation facilities will also be upgraded, and maintenance programmes developed for them that, again, involve partnerships between the City, communities and businesses.

Air pollution will improve as the shift away from private transport kicks in, sewer pollution will be reduced by the implementation of improved urban drainage systems across the inner city, and pump stations will be set up prevent the leakage of contaminated water or acid mine drainage into inner city water systems.

At the same time, while the City continues to roll out a phased upgrade of all streetscapes in the inner city, priority precincts will be identified for streetscape upgrades, with arts, culture and heritage projects reinforcing the unique identity of particular precincts.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), whose involvement has been key to the successes achieved so far in the inner city, will act as development facilitator for the Roadmap, implementing both capital projects initiated by the City and collaborative projects with the private sector.

The JDA will also administer a new dedicated Inner City Repairs and Maintenance Fund, which will be set up to allow for rapid repairs and maintenance of basic infrastructure such as sidewalks, streetlights and signage in the inner city.

“The JDA has a history in working in the inner city at strategic level, at spatial planning level and at implementation level,” the Roadmap notes. “Through its work it has built relationships with several existing inner city communities and many stakeholders.”

Besides having the systems and expertise in place for undertaking a range of projects and development facilitation functions, including procurement and project management, the agency boasts extensive experience of area-based development “and is recognised for this role among international city development agencies”.