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Inner city charter update
10 March 2008

The Inner City Charter Partnership Forum has held its second meeting, and has reported that a fair amount of work is under way in the inner city.

Neil Fraser
Neil Fraser

I AM back from cold London, but unfortunately returned a day late for the second meeting of the Inner City Charter Partnership Forum, which was held on Tuesday, 4 March at the World of Beer Conference Centre in Newtown.

However, Yael Horowitz, the inner city programme manager, kindly forwarded me the information that was made available at the meeting, enabling me to provide the following update.

Background
* Following an extensive process of consultation called for by the executive mayor, an Inner City Summit was held on 5 May 2007.

* The Inner City Regeneration Charter reflects the work of the stakeholder working groups, which held workshops with stakeholders and interested parties in the run-up to the summit, and is thus divided into six clusters:

  • Urban management, safety and security;
  • Public spaces, arts, culture and heritage;
  • Economic development;
  • Community development;
  • Transportation; and
  • Residential development.

* The City of Johannesburg recommitted to and re-elevated inner city initiatives and publicly made a specific "ring-fenced" budget available for the plans:

  • R2-billion capital budget commitment towards regeneration over the next five years (R300-million in 2007-08); and
  • R100-million was ring-fenced from various operating budgets for urban management in the inner city.

* The Charter was formally approved by the mayoral committee on 19 July 2007.

* The Inner City Partnership Forum was launched on 7 November 2007.

Charter vision
The first part of the Inner City Regeneration Charter speaks about the future of the Johannesburg inner city. It asks all stakeholders to envisage the future inner city as a place ...

  • That will be developed in a balanced way in order to accommodate all people and interests;
  • Which remains as the vibrant business heart of Johannesburg as a whole, but which balances future commercial, retail and light manufacturing development with a large increase in residential density;
  • Which works, as many other cities do elsewhere in the world, as a key residential node where a diverse range of people from different income groups and backgrounds can have their residential needs met;
  • Of first entry into Johannesburg, but also a place where people want to stay because it offers a high quality urban environment with available social and educational facilities, generous quality public open space, and ample entertainment opportunities;
  • Which serves as both the key transportation transit point for the entire Gauteng global city region, but also as a destination point where people want to walk in the streets; and
  • Where the prevailing urban management, safety and security concerns are a thing of the past. Fast changing city centres that accommodate a wide range of functions and interests in a dynamic mix do not have to be places where waste is not collected, by-laws are not enforced, buildings are in decay and public spaces deteriorating, and where many people cannot walk in the streets free of the fear of crime.

Regardless of the functions and people it accommodates, in future the Johannesburg inner city will be well managed, safe and clean. It will not be a dormitory for the poor, nor an exclusive enclave of loft apartments, galleries and coffee shops.

Urban management, safety and security
Charter commitments: urban management; by-law enforcement and education; waste management; city improvement district engagement; bad buildings; sectional title support; disaster management; liquor outlets; getting the basics right; and neighbourhood improvement districts.

Summary of progress
* Regional Urban Management Plan and operations plan approved and being implemented by multidisciplinary task force in Region F - exemplary example of matrix management and cross departmental co-operation;

* Inner city broken into four quadrants and quadrant teams in place;

* Dedicated capacity from various departments now contributes 136 enforcement officials and 30 urban inspectors have been hired;

* Systematic response, with zone-by-zone, block-by-block interventions beginning to show positive results;

* Emphasis on empirical information and early warning systems via geoinformation systems, call centre tracking and enhanced monitoring. The gaps and needs are now readily identifiable - the challenge is to get municipal-owned entities to respond effectively;

* Coherent programme of support for city improvement districts and three RIDs ready for the mayoral committee;

* Eight one-day public education campaigns already conducted. By-law education material has been designed for a major education campaign to roll out over next few months;

* Initial work on an integrated database of bad buildings (owners and directors of companies, cut-offs, amount owing and so on) completed. Being further developed along with other strategies;

* Commitment to have 216 CCTV cameras up and running by June 2008 (doubling of network) is ahead of schedule. Four dedicated response vehicles and staff have been agreed; and

* Imperative that capital spend is supported by public and private management initiatives.

Public spaces
Charter commitments: supportive built environment; visual cityscape; parks, playgrounds and other public spaces; walkable streets (public environment upgrade); and iconic public spaces.

Summary of progress
* R171-million allocated to public environment upgrade in Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville. Will involve upgrades on three different levels of streets (high = 21 blocks, activity = 64, residential = 115). Also public conveniences, park upgrades and interventions in critical urban challenges (for example, Governor's House);

* Necessary to allocate further capital funding to Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville in the 2008- 09 financial year to complete some initiatives;

* Approximately R127-million of the R300-million is in the process of being awarded. After community consultation, the Johannesburg Development Agency on site as from January with five contractors; and

* Focus on iconic public spaces will happen concurrent with the development of the Spatial Development Framework and Regional Spatial Development Framework review.

Arts, culture and heritage
Charter commitments: public events and public art; arts and culture sector networking; developing the inner city as a cultural capital; improving the arts and culture offer; heritage; and growing and supporting cultural production and creative industries.

Summary of progress
* Initial meeting of Inner City Sectoral Advisory Forum of creative and cultural businesses convened in September 2007;

* Development of mechanisms to ensure proper and sustainable financing, organisation, marketing and management of all events - liaising with the Gauteng provincial government in this regard as the City of Johannesburg cannot undertake it alone;

* Clear public art programme in tandem with redevelopment of the public realm - on track in Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville and consultants have been appointed;

* Web-based information sharing portal being investigated;

* Access audit to all city venues has been undertaken - the issue remains the capital needed to ensure compliance and ongoing maintenance; and

* All heritage plans ready for roll-out should the budget become available.

Economic development
Charter commitments: graduating/mainstreaming street trading/micro retailing; access to broadband telecommunications; targeted support to key sectors; targeted support to key economic anchors; incentives (including the urban development zone); better buildings; and information.

Summary of progress
* Informal Trading Policy has been adopted;

* Roll out of smart card system has been delayed, now working with Johannesburg Inner City Business Coalition (JICBC) to expedite;

* Hoek Street partnership market delayed, progress now being made;

* RFP for appointment of consultant project team to design further linear markets currently out to tender;

* Major institutional and management issues with Metro Trading Company were experienced, now there is firm commitment to ensure that fast tracked deliverables are forthcoming;

* Targeted support to key economic sectors: department of economic development is working with JICBC to establish working forums in targeted economic subsectors - on track;

* Extension for the urban development zone incentive has been granted by the national Treasury for a further five years; and

* Better Buildings - reconfigured programme now due June 2008. Feasibility studies, financial modelling and legal advice on structuring currently being undertaken.

Community development
Charter commitments: support to NGOs, CBOs and FBOs; special groups; early childhood development; migrants and refugees; sports and recreation; access to healthcare; access to education, training and library facilities; poverty alleviation and work creation; access to social package; and community pride.

Summary of progress
* Full new audit of NGOs and CBOs operating in the area has been undertaken, and 43 NGOs are now meeting on a monthly basis;

* Database of 100 crèches was compiled and measurable support given, three service providers appointed to provide mobile early childhood development capacity building of crèches, and 28 practitioners trained to date;

* Options for application of the social package are currently being investigated, together with revised tariff issues;

* Excellent progress on all non-time dated programmes; and

* Developing norms and standards policy for sports and recreation facilities, but finalisation outstanding as it needs more explicit focus in light of proposed residential densification.

Transportation
Charter commitments: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system; commuter rail; parking; taxi ranking and holding; mobility and congestion; and transportation and traffic safety.

Summary of progress
* The Inner City Distribution System will in future be known as the BRT Inner City System. The inner city route planning and station position planning is completed with traffic impact now being modelled;

* The updated Saturn traffic model for the inner city is complete. This is the first time in the history of the city that a morning and afternoon peak model is available for traffic flows in the inner city. Johannesburg Development Agency on site with phase one of BRT in the inner city;

* Comprehensive solution to on and off street parking progressing;

* Special commitment to CBD congestion points has been made;

* Public environment upgrade has taken traffic and pedestrian safety concerns into consideration; and

* Roll out of ward safety planning started January 2008.

Residential development
Charter commitments: inner city housing plan; emergency and transitional accommodation; inclusionary housing; hostels; informal settlement management; informal settlements relocation or upgrade and development; and private sector residential development facilitation.

Summary of progress
* Final plan late but an Inner City Housing Action Plan was approved by the November 2007 mayoral committee as a draft for further consultation. Consultation being done with various stakeholders, further modelling being done;

* Transitional housing - although delayed: MBV (317 beds) and Old Perm (150 beds) complete except for final delivery of beds. 228 units completed in BJ Alexander. Chelsea Hotel also in process (155 units), and other buildings (Rosabel Place, Vannin Court, MBV phase two and Casa Mia) have started; and

* R3-million from the original capital allocation for temporary accommodation in Hospital Hill building redirected to community development department for refurbishment as a street children sanctuary.

Key commitments
Key charter commitments to June 30, 2008, main deliverables:

* Sustained urban management;

* Public environment upgrade - Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville and planning of next year's capital allocation;

* Coherent city improvement district and neighbourhood improvement district programme of support to three initiatives;

* Housing action plan;

* Innovative bad buildings approach;

* Sectional title support;

* Reconfigured Better Buildings Programme launched;

* Informal trading and linear markets; and

* Also the urgent need for enhanced communication.

Summation
* 192 deliverables in total listed in the charter. These are deliverables that we are jointly responsible for as our programme for regenerating the inner city.

* 43 time dated deliverables due by December 31, 2007:

  • 30 achieved and verifiable, i.e. 70%; and
  • 13 late but significant progress made in most programmes, thus majority will be achieved by the end of the financial year.

* Most of the rest of 2007-08's commitments under way. A minority likely to not be achieved at all (for example, University of the Witwatersrand, education campus sports facility shared-usage agreement; clearance certificate issues; roll-out of broadband as "partner" will only be selected at the end of May).

During the next week I hope to have time to interrogate the report and will bring you my comments next week.

Regards, Neil

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Last Updated on 10 March 2008