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Friday May 17, 2013

Cape Town experts trash R140bn mini-city property development

The rationale behind the proposed development of R140 billion mini city Wescape has failed to convince civil society groups and seasoned academics, with some saying not much consideration has been given to the safety and security of residents who may live there.

At a discussion this week about the controversial proposal, academics in urban design, architecture and criminology said it was shocking that developers could not sufficiently address their concerns about many fundamental aspects.

Developers Bellandia, Target Projects, Pact Developers, Ariya Projects and ARG Design propose the development of 200 000 homes for 800 000 residents bordering Atlantis, saying the economic model is sound and the project would create 300 000 jobs over 20 years.

The development would be outside the urban edge. The application to extend the urban edge is with the provincial government.

John Cartwright, a professor in UCT's criminology department, said: "It was striking that there was no mention about the safety and security of the community.

"It makes one assume the plan was not considered in that light or was regarded as business as usual by leaving safety and security (to the) police and private security.

"What we need and don't have enough of is creative thinking on prevention of crime. One option is strong neighbourhood watches. Another move in the right direction is the metro police's neighbourhood safety officers who assist police and other state agencies in detecting problems and creating a safe environment."

Gavin Silber, from the Social Justice Coalition, said the proposal failed to address pressing issues, such as urban inequality.

"We must avoid the temptation of gambling on a utopian 'Emerald City' when so much is at stake.

"We do need to be imaginative when thinking about addressing urban inequality, but given our city's limited resources and array of social crises, we must base difficult decisions on reliable evidence and best practice. Wescape and it's proponents fail to do this."

Barbara Southworth, a former director of urban design and spatial planning at the city and now managing director of City Think Space, an urban design company, said: "This development will take away from other crucial city projects. Cape Town has a significant crisis with a maintenance backlog. If Wescape goes ahead, restitution projects like District Six will be affected."

Cape Times


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