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Wednesday May 23, 2012

Cape Town embraces denser development

Cape Town is a sprawling city based on the car, where everyone from poor to rich wants a free-standing house with a patch of garden, says councillor Belinda Walker.

But with the rate and pace of urban growth, this was not the kind of city that could be sustained long-term, and the Cape Town of the future will have to be denser, with far better public transport, more mixing of poor and rich areas, and a defined urban edge to stop city sprawl.

These are some of the elements contained in Cape Town's Spatial Development Framework, six years in the making, officially approved by Environment and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell yesterday.

The framework replaces all the outdated guide plans approved in the apartheid era.

Walker, Mayco member for economic, environment and spatial planning, said yesterday that one of the problems with planning was that Cape Town had developed from 60 municipalities which became 39, then seven and then one.

"So we have several plans with conflicting objectives and very outdated information."

One of the guiding principles of the framework is that all residents should have equal access to the city's resources and amenities.

"We don't think people living in shack settlements should live forever on the outskirts of the city... We must bring people into the city and transform the apartheid city," she said. It would be appropriate to house people who qualified for "gap housing" - those with a household income of between R3 500 and R15 000 - along Voortrekker Road on under-utilised state and parastatal land. Voortrekker Road was served by nine railway stations and would be getting a city bus service soon.

While multiple-storey buildings were more expensive to build, in the long run they were economical as it cost less to provide services and infrastructure in denser areas. Some areas, like the City Bowl, were ideal for densification with blocks of flats, but areas like Tamboerskloof, with its Victorian houses, would need to be protected.

Walker said Pinelands was a classic example of a suburb not suitable for high density living, but could be densified by building granny flats and double dwellings.

The framework is designed to be a long-term plan to manage the city's growth and development. While it does not give or take away zoning rights, it is a guide for changes in land-use rights. Developers would be able to make better investment decisions because the framework shows clearly where urban development should take place. The framework also lays out a defined coastal edge around the peninsula.

Bredell described the plan as "a brilliant document" that set the trend for city spatial planning in the rest of SA.

Walker said the framework was not "set in stone", and would be revised every five years.

Cape Town

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