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Thursday Sep 06, 2012

Cape Town is planning for skyscrapers

City skyscrapers should be mixed-use and should have a row of cafes, shops and restaurants at street level.

These were some of the comments from public participation for the Cape Town's tall building policy. The policy is set to be put before a full council meeting where it will be approved.

During a mayoral committee meeting yesterday, Belinda Walker, member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, pictured, spoke about the importance of the policy: "We are seeing very tall buildings across the city. If you've seen Portside, you will realise the scope and impact of tall buildings."

The draft policy was tabled before the city's economic, environment and spatial planning committee last year. This was followed by extensive public participation, including workshops with interested parties. Architects and urban designers weighed in. And there were also submissions from subcouncils.

Some of the themes in the proposed policy include that tall buildings must fit in with the city context and should not obstruct views. They should also not negatively affect historical parts of the city.

"The location of tall buildings must protect the key views to Table Mountain, other mountain ranges such as Kogelberg, Helderberg and the sea from public spaces and key public places," the proposed policy reads. The responses from the public participation sessions include suggesting varying heights of tall buildings in some areas.

There was also a strong emphasis on the buildings not blocking off the public.

"This means all tall buildings should be porous at street level, having shops, cafes, restaurants, etc on all sides, and parking levels should start only from two levels up, if at all. Plans with blank, solid walls at street level should never be passed," reads the comment.

"In some areas, where the mountain provides the backdrop, heights should be limited to avoid obstructing the view. The effect the buildings will have on casting shadows or blocking wind must also be considered, especially near open spaces like rivers.

"Submissions also said tall buildings should, where possible, be mixed-use. There should be residential, commercial and retail space. It's hoped this will make for constant, lively hubs around the building.

"Having a combination of all three uses ensures there are people around at all times of the day and night, and results in no parts of the city becoming deserted and unsafe at night."

Established tall buildings would not have to make any adjustments to meet the guidelines in the policy.

Cape Argus

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