Yesterday, Executive Mayor Dan Plato officially launched the Bellville Future City project aimed at focusing efforts to transform the area. With the Bellville Future City Project, the City will harness closer working relationships and collaboration with the rail agencies Prasa and Transnet, and other key stakeholders in the revitalisation of the CBD.
‘The vision of developing Bellville as Cape Town’s second CBD has been discussed for a long time and today, we are taking concrete action. We are establishing strategic forums to engage academic institutions, the business sector and civil society, which will assist our short, medium and long-term goals of revitalising the Bellville CBD,’ said the City’s Executive Mayor Dan Plato.
Despite the impact of Covid-19 on business and employment, the Bellville CBD has remained resilient in these difficult times, and is well-placed to experience rejuvenation and growth.
The Bellville CBD has a different DNA to Cape Town CBD, which relies heavily on office workers to generate foot traffic for businesses. Also, the Bellville CBD has traditionally been a transport funnel via the Voortrekker Road Corridor, connecting people to industrial and commercial areas across Cape Town, including nearby industrial nodes in Bellville Industria, Parow, Goodwood, Durbanville, Brackenfell, Kuils River, and Kraaifontein.
Cape Town continues to experience rapid urbanisation as people relocate to the city in search of opportunities and better lives. It is true, however, that Bellville has suffered from a prolonged period of decline. This has impacted negatively on the area’s attractiveness as an investment destination. A key part of the revitalisation will include the establishment of an Innovation District to facilitate increased investment in the knowledge economy, and sharing strategic information related to policy development and planning. The second forum will comprise of the business sector, which will assist with the regeneration by directing investment through the Innovation District. The Greater Tygerberg Partnership will be assisting with the implementation of the project, as a city-linked body.
‘On 29 January 2020, in tabling the City’s Adjustment Budget to Council, I announced that the Bellville CBD project would be a legacy project as part of the ‘Mayoral Visible Service Acceleration’ (MVSA) initiative. The Bellville CBD is included in the R200 million MVSA project focused on urban renewal projects in 23 precincts across the city.
‘Implementation of the MVSA started at the end of last year. Overall, up to 80 projects to upgrade community facilities and infrastructure, have been identified for funding and execution. In Bellville, the MVSA initiative is also a precursor to the overall rejuvenation of the area,’ said Mayor Plato.
Investment by the City will be a catalyst for the development of the Bellville CBD, supported by additional sources from the private sector, the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, Prasa and Transnet. There will be a great focus on investment related to land, and the development of public transport. It is a long-term project that will span multiple financial years. Its implementation is being driven under the following two initiatives:
* Implementing short-term urban management interventions as part of the MVSA, aimed at stabilising the area to address social problems associated with crime and grime, and to create an enabling environment attractive for investment.
* The medium to long-term regeneration of Bellville CBD as part of the City’s ‘Catalytic Land Development Programme’. Through this programme, the City will enable Bellville’s economic regeneration, and spatial transformation, by levering the significant public investment proposed in economic, mobility, social and utility infrastructure. To this end, significant work has been progressed in developing a spatial vision and masterplan.
Reasons for the Bellville CBD’s resilience:
– Bellville’s diverse land uses have far less reliance on commercial offices, although a number of corporate companies are based in the area such as Sanlam, CIPLA, among others, with a low retail vacancy rate. Resulting from this diversified land use, vacancy rates in Bellville CBD, especially among retail, is very low.
Other land uses include the cluster of tertiary institutions, previously mentioned nearby industrial nodes and various public sector services in the health and social services domain. Due to the nature of this set of circumstances it makes the Bellville CBD innately resilient to changing economic times.
– The concentration of informal traders, who coexist with the more established retailers. The Middestad Mall and its proximity to the station, PTI and Voortrekker Road is a good example of this and displays high foot traffic throughout the week into the weekend – which is not the case for the Cape Town CBD.
– Bellville is a key logistics hub for wholesale supply in the metropolitan retail market. The diversification of Bellville’s retail offering and the abundance of smaller scale of retail operations equates to less reliance on flagship retailers, has also contributed to Bellville’s resilience.
‘The regeneration of the Bellville CBD is one of the implementation priorities of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). My announcement today of the Bellville Future City project stems from the IDP which identifies three major transit-oriented development (TOD) projects to enhance economic development in Cape Town, partly through the transformation of the built environment and targeted service delivery. By launching the Bellville Future City project today, we are taking very important steps in realising the City’s long-term vision for residents, businesses and investors,’ said Mayor Plato.
Caption 1: Executive Mayor Dan Plato addresses stakeholders, including the business sector, academia and officials at the Bellville Future City launch.
Caption 2: Executive Mayor Dan Plato unveils the Bellville Future City initiative model for the proposed revitalisation of the area with Frank Cumming, Director of Urban Catalytic Projects at the City of Cape Town (far left) and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Niewoudt.
Caption 3: A close-up of the Bellville Future City model.