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Thursday Apr 05, 2018

Pretoria to promote inner-city high-rises

Tswhane mayor Solly Msimanga has said the City wants to scrap outdated by-laws which negatively affect Pretoria's densification strategy to create urban spaces for people to live closer to their workplaces.

A view over Sunnyside and Arcadia towards the Union Buildings.

One of the by-laws in contention prohibits the building of skyscrapers in the space between the Union Buildings and Voortrekker Monument. This by-law was not in keeping with the vision of a modern city, which should provide housing for people travelling long distances to work, the mayor said.

Msimanga shared his concerns about the outdated by-laws at Lynnwood Bridge, where he addressed businesspeople and government officials recently.

"We want now to ensure that we dispose of prohibitive by-laws and policies. One by-law is that you cannot build anything that is obstructing the view of the Union Buildings to the Voortrekker Monument," he said.

If goals of building a compact city was to be realised "skyscrapers are going to be the order of the day", he said. "If you cannot build anything beyond five storeys - and I am talking about building a compact city - that becomes a problem. That is one of the by-laws we now need to re-look at."

MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning Randall Williams said the mayor was referring to a by-law barring the construction of tall buildings as an example of outdated by-laws.

"He referred to the by-law that says you may not build a high-rise building close to the Union Buildings. He was merely using that as an example of outdated by-laws," Williams said.

He shared Msimanga's sentiment that such by-laws were obsolete and needed to be reviewed.

"We need to look at all by-laws that are very old and no longer apply. We also need to look at our system, to see where we can bring efficiency into our systems."

A review of old by-laws would assist in terms of redefining characteristics which should constitute a future city, he said.

"We should be moving towards a city that is integrated, where people are living closer to work - a city that is well-serviced by the public transport system," he said.

He said the city's spatial planning framework embodied the plan to provide people with housing within close proximity to their workplaces.

"People should be close to work. For example, you have people from Hammanskraal and Soshanguve (travelling long distances to work). We need to move businesses closer to them. We should densify the city more. Building high-rise buildings for people to be able to stay closer to work was part of the plan. People should not spend four hours travelling to work," he said.

Williams said the future city should be technologically-driven in a way that improved service delivery.

"We must make use of smart technology in the city and that technology should be able to tell us when traffic lights are off without residents having to report them."

He said this was "the long-term plan the City should be working towards".

Dr Udo Küsel, of the African Heritage Council, said the decision to build high-rise buildings rested with the City Council. As far as he knew, there was no law barring the construction of skyscrapers near heritage sites.

Küsel said the decision to prohibit lofty buildings would depend on its effects on existing historic buildings. "The Act protects historic buildings, they can't be demolished. There is no stipulation about highrise buildings or historic buildings.

"Normally that would be the task of the council concerning developments in a specific area."

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