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Citichat 2007

Notes from the Netherlands

DUTCH cities Amsterdam and Rotterdam may be old - Rotterdam goes back to 900 - but they are no slouches when it comes to forward-thinking, writes NEIL FRASER.
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Year-end review 5 - the good and the horrid

WHILE some marvellous work is being undertaken in the inner city, with refurbishments and a new building going up, there are many places still stalked by neglect. The government-owned Rissik Street Post Office springs to mind.
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Year-end review 4 - environment

WE need to turn Joburg's inner city into a "good space", a place where people will want to hang out and have fun. The Inner City Regeneration Charter has got the ball rolling.
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Year-end review 3 - charter

THE launch of the inner city charter partnership forum was "an uplifting start to a process that is full of promise and will make a substantial difference over the next few, critical, years".
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Year-end review 2 – residential

THERE are plenty of highlights in new residential developments – but lack of progress in some areas count as lowlights for the year.
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Year-end review 1 - transportation

TRANSPORT plans on the table for Johannesburg will help to change the face of the city, as well as the way residents and visitors use it.
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Making the city a better place to live

THE rapidly looming 2010 FIFA World Cup™, ever-increasing demand for housing, a transport system that will have a widespread and dramatic effect on the city, and the changing nature of the demand for commercial premises will all put new pressures on the urban fabric, says Neil Fraser.
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IDA conference and quotable quotes

ARCHITECTS, town planners, urban designers and various urban experts gathered in New York City; Neil Fraser has a few choice words of wisdom from the congress.
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Harlem hits the high notes

HARLEM is rising above its chequered past and claiming its position in a list of America's Great Places. And it has a few ideas we can try here, too.
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Urban renaissance in US cities

THERE are exciting developments happening in New York City and Philadelphia, where construction is booming and people are moving back into the city centres, writes Neil Fraser.
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Washington has a lesson to teach

VISITING two very different American cities, Neil Fraser is struck by the great quality of life offered by both.
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Other views, part two

'PLANNING needs to be done by people with design/planning expertise coupled with sufficient experience to remain objective about their proposals'; we should look to France, Brazil, the US and China for examples of what is possible. A reader responds to Neil Fraser.
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Other views, part one

DENSIFICATION may not be the valve to ease the pressure on space that Joburg is experiencing; in fact, the city may end up with densification and urban sprawl. A reader responds to Neil Fraser.
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Inner city review: the year so far

THERE are pockets of work going on, with upgrades and refurbishments dotted around the inner city. Yet much more can still be done.
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What's happened to the Gauteng precinct?

THERE has been a deafening silence from government quarters about the much-talked about Gauteng provincial government precinct, announced almost four years ago.
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State, statues and smart transportation

DENSIFICATION is the way forward, and the draft land use plan for the Bus Rapid Transit pilot route should be carefully considered, as it is a positive signal from the council.
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One step forward, several more back

THE more things change, the more they stay the same - this week there is more good news, and the usual bad news, for Neil Fraser.
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Counting the cost of bureaucracy

ON A FLYING visit to George and Knysna, Neil Fraser is struck by the need for a report on the staggering amount of bureaucracy in which companies are drowning.
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Charter challenges - implementation and monitoring

THE FINAL Inner City Regeneration Charter was approved at last week's mayoral committee meeting. And it seems the City has made strong commitments to improving the area.
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There is good news and no news

PRIVATE sector investment in the inner city is moving ahead, with work already under way on one of the first private high-rise commercial developments in ages.
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Residential demand, but what about green space?

WITH a rapid urbanisation of the cities, and an ever-growing need for accommodation, particularly in Johannesburg, it is important to couple this development with the provision of social facilities and open space.
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What's in a name?

Across the world, towns, streets and other entities have had their names changed as rulers have changed - or even for money. In South Africa, name-changing can be a force for nation-building.
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Caramba! We're actually Portuguese in name

FAR from being named after the two-man commission sent by president Paul Kruger to establish a mining town around the discovery of gold, it seems Johannesburg is named for Portuguese kings.
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East end, west end – which is best?

THERE has been plenty of investment in the western end of the city centre, but the eastern end is no longer the poor relation, with about R3-billion worth of development in the area.
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It's time for JoGreen

Global warming is increasingly in the spotlight, and cities can do a lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must Go Green, writes Neil Fraser.
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Inner City Charter makes green promises

Still looking at going green, through the commitments in the draft Inner City Regeneration Charter, Neil Fraser gives a potted history of waste, leading to recycling.
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Turning words into action takes cash

The executive mayor has taken a stand, and in his budget committed a substantial sum to turning the outcomes of the Inner City Regeneration Charter, into reality.
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Monorail: more questions than answers

The provincial government does it again: is Mashatile's Malaysian monorail a masterstroke or mayhem, asks Neil Fraser.
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Long history leads to latest inner city summit

Was the Inner City Summit on 5 May one more mountain to climb or a great opportunity for re-energising the area, asks Neil Fraser.
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The changing city, part two

There is a groundswell of new investment into the inner city. While the profile of property owners is changing - along with property uses - money is being poured into sprucing up Joburg's CBD.
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The changing city, part one

Far from being a recent problem, the decline of the inner city had its roots way back in the 1950s, and some short-sighted decisions were made by the council of the time.
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The law is an ass about evictions

One of the most difficult concepts to get one's mind around regarding urban regeneration is that of evictions. Currently, the law protects people illegally occupying buildings, those who refuse to pay rent or for services, while the buildings are allowed to become cesspits.
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Likker is not always lekker

Liquor licences are being granted indiscriminately, ignoring the vast amount of literature that points to a direct relationship between alcohol and crime and violence. Hopefully the Draft Liquor Policy will look into this, writes Neil Fraser.
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Some Easter musings on the city

SPARKED by the recent cleaning up of the Kaserne Parking Garage, which had been allowed to become an informal settlement, Neil Fraser thinks about the consequences of allowing a city to lose its soul.
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Public art softens harsh urban environment

VERY little funding is channelled to public art, and Johannesburg gets crumbs from the central government. But a new deal made by the City's arts department may change all that.
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Heritage economics: reusing old buildings

PRESERVING old buildings, and adapting them for new uses, makes good economic sense, as Stellenbosch has proved. Sadly, Johannesburg is not the only South Africa city that is fast missing that opportunity.
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Wayfinding: plotting your city route

THE 2010 Fifa World Cup brings with it many opportunities that will long benefit Joburg, not least of which is the chance to establish a useful, innovative and clear wayfinding system.
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Distilling the issues for the Inner City Summit and Charter

THE third round of stakeholder working group meetings for the Inner City Summit are almost over, and the list of issues and concerns is being drawn up. Neil Fraser looks at what has come out of the meetings so far.
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Distilling the issues for the Inner City Summit and Charter

The third round of stakeholder working group meetings for the Inner City Summit are almost over, and the list of issues and concerns is being drawn up. Neil Fraser looks at what has come out of the meetings so far.
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Four fixable inner city issues

PREPARING for the Inner City Summit later this year, a workshop identifies places in the inner city that have been neglected and allowed to decay, writes Neil Fraser.
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Four fixable inner city issues

Preparing for the Inner City Summit later this year, a workshop identifies places in the inner city that have been neglected and allowed to decay, writes Neil Fraser.
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Final 'dumping session' for Inner City Summit held

ECONOMIC development was the final stakeholders' working group to meet for its first session ahead of the Inner City Summit. From here it is time to prioritise issues and find solutions, writes Neil Fraser.
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Final 'dumping session' for Inner City Summit held

Economic development was the final stakeholders' working group to meet for its first session ahead of the Inner City Summit. From here it is time to prioritise issues and find solutions, writes Neil Fraser.
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Residential issues on agenda for Inner City Summit

Housing is an emotional topic, yet it needs critical analysis for all citizens' needs to be addressed. Some of the pertinent issues were raised at the first residential development working group meeting ahead of the Inner City Summit.
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Social issues on agenda for Inner City Summit

The Inner City Summit workshops have continued, with a meeting of the social, or community, development stakeholder's working group. In line with concerns raised, we can learn some lessons from South America.
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Transport on the table ahead of Inner City Summit

The third in a series of workshops leading up to the Inner City Summit in May focused on transport. It is an issue close to people's hearts, if the number of comments and suggestions from the public is anything to go by.
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City gears up for Inner City summit

Questions that will be posed at the Joburg Inner City summit to be held in 2007 include what makes a city liveable, vibrant and attractive. Neil Fraser looks at the issues around public and leisure spaces and arts, culture and heritage.
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Work towards Inner City Summit begins

Workshops leading to next year's Inner City Summit have begun, with the safety, security and urban management sectors the first to meet. Neil Fraser looks at the issues raised.
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JDA report maps progress in the inner city

The Indicators of Progress 2006 report was mostly positive, with a good dose of optimism for the future, but we still have a long way to go, writes Neil Fraser.
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Good and bad news in the Trafalgar Inner City Report 2006

The good news is that the Gautrain should lead to more inner city investment, says Neil Fraser, but the bad news is that the poor are, once again, being marginalised.
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