The City of Johannesburg’s R61-million, four-year regeneration initiative for Yeoville aims to attract new investment into the area and to restore the Rockey/Raleigh High Street to its former glory and even better as “the symbolic heart and soul of Yeoville”.
Historically, Yeoville has always been an important civic, economic, social and entertainment node for the local community and the city. However, it has attracted activities associated with high crime and grime and land use is often inappropriate. Security is poor and the area is neglected and decaying. All this has fed into negative perceptions about the area, exposing it to serious disinvestments.
But the area is now the focus of a regeneration plan by the City of Johannesburg, which will be implemented by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). The focus of the development will be Rockey/Raleigh streets, with the idea to turn this so-called High Street into an “attractive, well-maintained, safe, secured and convenient urban environment sustained by a vibrant local mixed-use economy, providing opportunities for convenient shopping, accessible retail, entertainment, recreation and social services facilities predominantly to the neighbourhood community and attractive to the sub-regional community”.
A lot of groundwork has been put into this initiative, including a feasibility study, which identified four strategies for development intervention: intensive urban management; economic redevelopment; public environment upgrade; and marketing. Read more about the development strategies.
The community of the area is closely involved with the development and an interim stakeholder liaison forum has been established to organise and provide a voice for stakeholders and the communities of Yeoville, Bellevue and Bellevue East. The forum comprises community organisations, the ward committee, business operators, property owners, taxi industry, informal traders, community policing forum and the religious and education sectors.
The regeneration initiative will aim to:
- restore the High Street as the symbolic heart and soul of Yeoville and its adjacent communities;
- enhance the civic and commercial vitality of the High Street in the Yeoville community;
- create a safe and secured environment which is attractive to new investment; and
- create a place for new economic activities.
The high-density residential suburb of Yeoville falls within Region 8 of the City of Johannesburg. Located on the north-easterly end of Region 8, the precinct is bounded by Berea to the west, Houghton to the north, Observatory to the east and Highlands to the south.
Rockey/Raleigh is a developed east-west high street, which forms a commercial, retail, recreation and entertainment spine to the surrounding residential suburbs.
According to the Urban Econ Business Audit undertaken in 2003, retail development comprises 54% of the businesses found in the area: general groceries, meat, liquor, fast foods, clothing and a limited amount of furniture. Personal service businesses form 30% of the businesses, including internet cafes, hairdressers and liquor.
Yeoville Rockey/Raleigh High Street will be attractive, well-maintained, safe, secured and convenient urban environment sustained by a vibrant local mixed-use economy, providing opportunities for convenient shopping, accessible retail, entertainment, recreation and social services facilities predominantly to the neighbourhood community and attractive to the sub-regional community”.
To affect this goal, zones for different activities have been identified along the length of Rockey/Raleigh Street:
The section from Fortesque to Kenmere streets will be zoned as a civic node, with a focus on public services. The library will be moved into an empty City Power building nearby and the old police station will be used for social services. A new police station will be built next to it by the Department of Public Works. Alongside will be a clinic. The public pool, also built to cater for a small community, will be upgraded to meet demand.
Further down Rockey/Raleigh street, between Cavendish and Bezuidenhout Streets, is the entertainment node. Investment in a small business hub and support centre will see the creation of a more dynamic business environment.
In light of the huge numbers of people the area attracts, security measures will be stepped up and improved lighting and CCTV cameras have been proposed along Rockey/Raleigh as well as Hunter and Hopkins streets.
On a more practical level, traffic regulation and paving of Rockey and Raleigh and some of the adjacent streets is also in the pipeline. The JDA proposes to turn the one-way section of Rockey Street, between De La Rey and Bezuidenhout streets, into a two-way street. This will alleviate congestion along the proposed M18 route, along the Observatory-Rockey-Bezuidenhout-Hendon-Harrow route and will increase the space available for parking.
Read more about the strategic thrust of this development
Given the issues and opportunities affecting the High Street precinct within the context of the Inner City, the regeneration initiative would be expected to achieve the following outcomes.
- reversal of social, economic, and physical decline confronting the High Street;
- increased participation of the local community in the development and management of the High Street;
- an urban environment that affords the retainment of existing private-sector investment and is attractive to new investment;
- support of the development and growth of SMMEs in the High Street area and new economic opportunities;
- highest and best use of properties and re-use of decaying buildings, coupled with increased property values and increased rates and taxes;
- a well-managed High Street characterised by strict by-law enforcement and zero tolerance of illegal use of properties and criminal activities, improved service delivery and a well-maintained public environment; and
- increased employment opportunities, especially for the local community.
To achieve these ends, four broad strategic areas of development intervention – together with their projects and subprojects – have been identified on the basis of key concerns and issues that were identified in consultation with the stakeholders.
1. Intensive urban management
The intensive urban management intervention focuses on by-law enforcement, town planning scheme enforcement, informal trade control and regular delivery and maintenance of services, utilities and public environment management.
- by-law enforcement;
- better buildings programme;
- establishment of CID; and
- closed-circuit TV.
2. Built form development (physical upgrade)
The public environment upgrade concentrates on upgrading and ensuring the effective and efficient functioning of engineering infrastructure and services, including the road network. The upgrade will also encompass the development of the civic node, which will cover all community facilities.
- physical environment upgrade
- civic node development;
- road alignment;
- parking; and
- taxi ranks.
3. Economic redevelopment
This intervention determines appropriate strategies and resources required to promote and support sustainable local economic development. The focus will be on the growth of the informal market and a high number of SMMEs on the High Street.
- economic development plan;
- monitor and evaluate informal trade; and
- social development plan.
4. Marketing and branding
Marketing interventions will provide and determine coherent mechanisms, strategies and resources that are necessary to effectively promote the High Street for new investment.
- marketing strategy plan;
- informal base; and