Mayoral Committee adopts development strategy to address apartheid spatial planning and transport inefficiencies
The City of Cape Town anticipates that by the year 2032, Cape Town may need an additional 500 000 new dwelling units; retail space of 1 000 000 m²; office space of 3 500 000 m²; and industrial development comprising 4 500 000 m² to deal with the projected population growth. The location and nature of these future developments will have a significant impact on the millions of people who will be living and working in the city. As such, the City’s Mayoral Committee this morning, 15 March 2016, adopted a new and far-reaching approach to integrated spatial and transport planning – firstly to accelerate our efforts to eradicate the legacy of apartheid segregation, and secondly to assist us in building a future Cape Town with equity and inclusivity as its cornerstones.
The policy document is called the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Strategic Framework. It prescribes how new developments across Cape Town should happen to deal with apartheid spatial inequality, the high cost of public transport, and future urbanisation while also stimulating economic growth.
In layman’s terms, the TOD can be defined as the City of Cape Town’s long-term development strategy to achieve our vision for Cape Town 2032. If adopted by full Council later this month, the TOD Strategic Framework will serve as our development mantra for the next 16 years.
The TOD, in a nutshell, says that in order for us to achieve our vision of Cape Town 2032, all future developments must have the right mix of land uses that produce or attract movement in the right places with the aim of balancing travel patterns across the city. Some developments in some places may require more of a particular land-use type (residential, retail, recreational, office or industrial) than others to help correct the current travel imbalance over time.
Ideally, new developments should be strategically located around public transport where residents will have easy access to either rail or MyCiTi trunk routes.
Furthermore the strategic framework seeks to optimise the location of future residential areas for all income groups in relation to economic and work opportunities. This will result in shorter travel distances and times for all residents which will ultimately reduce the cost of access for transport users. This will hold substantial benefits for lower-income households who currently spend a higher proportion of their income on transport due to the dispersed nature of these communities.
The new approach to integrated spatial and transportation planning must guide us towards establishing an efficient Cape Town by the year 2032:
- A city where the urban space is compact and well connected
- A city where developments are conducive to economic and social efficiency
- A city where residents have easy access to efficient, sustainable and affordable public transport
- A city where living and breathing is easy thanks to the limited impact of developments on the natural environment
For this to happen, new developments should be a high density mix of housing, shopping, recreational and transport choices. In addition, the location of these developments must enable residents to walk, cycle or use public transport.
The right mix and location will lead to a well-designed urban space (city) where traffic congestion is minimised. Easy access to public transport will encourage residents to rely less on private vehicles. More commuters, less congestion and shorter distances to travel (thanks to efficient urban development) will result in viable public transport – driving down the cost for both the City and commuters.
A reduction in the number of private vehicles on the roads, shorter travelling distances and less congestion will lead to lower carbon emissions and a better quality of life for all.
It is important to note that there is an indisputable link between the viability of public transport and effective spatial planning. Densification (dwellings per hectare), the mix (residential combined with commercial, as is the case in Century City), and distribution (the location of residential, office, industrial and recreational sites) affects public transport in terms of the cost, optimal use and viability.
To reiterate, for the City’s public transport system to be viable and efficient, more commuters have to live and work in close proximity to the trunk routes, be it rail or bus. Furthermore, the land has to be developed in such a manner that it leads to increased density along these routes, and the development must be the right mix between residential and commercial where residents have easy access to fresh food and government services close to their homes.
Our vision for Cape Town 2032 is that it should be a city with a high quality and efficient public transport system which will enable residents to live car-independent lifestyles. For us to provide commuters with more frequent public transport services and for longer hours, we must succeed in increasing the density of developments along the bus and rail corridors.
Apart from being a development tool, TOD is also an approach that is focused on improving quality of life within a precinct that is well-located for access to transport, amenities, shopping and employment. A well-executed TOD precinct includes quality public spaces that are also conducive to socialising.
In summary, how we develop and use our urban spaces for living, working and travelling will very much determine the quality of life of our residents in future:
- With shorter travelling times and less congestion, families will have more time to spend at home
- As public transport becomes viable, commuters and the City will pay less for public transport, meaning households will have more money to spend on other necessities
- Shorter travelling times, less congestion and fewer private vehicles will lead to lower carbon emissions
- A more efficient Cape Town will attract more investments, which in turn will boost our local economy, leading to more job opportunities
This new approach to integrated spatial and transport planning will also assist us in building an inclusive city where the future of our residents is not determined by where they live, but rather where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Cape Town is currently characterised by low densities, long distances between residential areas and workplaces, as well as historical disparities where the majority of low-income residents live far away from work opportunities and have to spend a significant percentage of their income on transport.
With TOD, the City will follow a planning, design and implementation approach that will bring our residents closer to their workplace – either by developing more residential dwellings in existing economic areas or by creating more economic opportunities in areas that are dominated by residential development. In doing so, we will reverse the legacy of apartheid spatial planning and the segregation that is unfortunately still very prevalent in our society today.
In order to achieve this vision, some strategic interventions are proposed and being investigated:
- All existing land-use regulations and strategic policy and development frameworks within the City must be aligned with TOD principles and objectives to ensure these are key considerations in the assessment of all private sector development approvals and public sector-led development across the city
- Developments in desirable locations – such as close to public transport trunk routes – must be fast-tracked
- Further research must be done and, if necessary, processes must be undertaken to amend legislation that may deter the implementation of this new approach to integrated spatial and transport planning
- In future, MyCiTi and railway stations should be designed in such a way to accommodate retail and/or social facilities inside and above stations, as well as government services such as libraries and clinics
- Businesses and developers must be incentivised to apply TOD principles – for example, to locate new higher density developments near public transport trunk routes
- Disincentives must discourage private sector development in locations that are in conflict with the principles of TOD
Going forward, Transport for Cape Town will, in conjunction with other key City directorates and the private and public sector, implement the new approach to integrated spatial and transport planning to reverse the legacy of apartheid segregation and to meet the demands of future population growth.