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Friday Apr 19, 2013

'Need to inject new life' into Pretoria inner city

Concerns have been raised about the practical implementation of the Tshwane Metro Council's Operation Reclaim which includes the partial closure of some streets in Pretoria's inner city.

Several stakeholders have expressed concern that this will be bad for their operations and have come up with "an alternative plan" for operations in the inner city.

The stakeholders, which include the State Theatre, the Reserve Bank, property letting company City Property and the Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industries (TCCI), are of the opinion that instead of partly closing some streets, the municipality should look at ways of rejuvenating the inner city.

The metro council has agreed to the partial closure of certain streets as part of Operation Reclaim.

Consultant Guy Briggs said at an Operation Reclaim workshop at the Pretoria City Hall yesterday there were no clear indications of the impact the project would have on public transport in the inner city.

Briggs said his clients - which include the State Theatre, City Property and the TCCI - supported, in principle, the metro council's ambitions to make the city workable.

"But there are issues that include the bus service (municipal and the Gautrain), which need to be answered. There is no clear indication on public transport and no room has been provided for new developments," he said.

Briggs said they believed the metro council should not partly close Sisulu (Prinsloo) and Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) as this would impact negatively on Sammy Marks and the State Theatre.

According to Briggs, the State Theatre has an underground parking area with the entrance and exit in Sisulu (Prinsloo) Street.

Briggs said the metro council needed to inject new life into the inner city.

"There should be activity day and night; events and festivals should be organised; restaurants, coffee shops and bars should be provided. There should also be performance spaces, markets and artists' studios," he said.

Briggs said his clients supported what the municipality was doing, "but we want you to involve us... we have a significant role to play".

Another consultant, Peter Purchase, said a number of on-street parking bays would be lost as part of Operation Reclaim.

It is expected that there will not be any on-street parking in Sisulu (Prinsloo); Church Square and Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) streets.

Purchase said they were looking at the possibility of turning Du Toit Street into a northbound one-way.

He added that there were a number of issues which needed attention, including the effect the project would have on parking and public transport. He said a study and policy were required on parking and public transport.

The TCCI president, advocate Salim Yousuf, said there were a number of questions which needed answers.

Yousuf said studies should have been done and approved before the matter was approved by the council.

Yousuf said it was worrying that the member of the mayoral committee responsible for economic development and planning, Subesh Pillay, was not at the workshop.

"He initiated the workshop but failed to attend. There was no political direction on some of the issues raised," said Yousuf, adding that they would approach executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to have the council's decision reversed.

The strategic executive director, economic development and planning, Thembeka Mhlengwa, said Pillay could not go to the workshop because of last-minute commitments.

Mhlengwa gave the assurance that the workshop was not the last and that the master plan for Operation Reclaim had not been finalised.

Pretoria News


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