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Cooperation is catalyst for success

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Catalytic projects in the Western Cape hold the key to economic growth stimulation in the province, but working relationships between the public and private sectors are integral for their success.

This need for improved cooperation is being felt on a national level, and Cape Town property stakeholders agree it is highly necessary, particularly to address the legacy of apartheid spatial planning.

Andile Mnguni, of the SA Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP), says a catalytic project is one of sufficient magnitude to stimulate growth and contribute to job creation, enhanced land values and better housing and transformation.

“Each has its own challenges. The public sector has issues around job creation and poverty which need to be dealt with while the private sector faces challenges of bulk infrastructure, or lack of infrastructure, provided by the public sector.

“If the public sector puts in R1, the private sector can put in R10,” he says.

What the private sector needs from government is:

An enabling environment.

Quick decision-making and turnaround time.

Removal of unnecessary red tape.

Understanding of its challenges and objectives.

Necessary infrastructure provision.

What the public sector needs from the private sector is:

Collaboration and inclusion.

Robust skills transfer and ownership.

Appropriate partnerships.

Benchmarking and building trust.

A commitment to improving the current property landscape.

“The government expects some inclusiveness or it will not achieve what it wants. Of the country’s R6trillion property sector only 10% to 15% is black-owned, and increasing that is part of what the public sector expects,” Mnguni says.

Himmy Abader, a Cape Town-based property developer, says workshops between the local public and private sectors should take place to improve collaboration. One issue of contention in Cape Town is that the government adopts “too many planning policies”.

“The most recent document is a 228-page municipal spatial development framework currently advertised for public comment. Some policies, like higher densification, have good intentions but heritage policies and zoning codes restrict this.

“The shortage of affordable housing is a problem in most major cities like London, Sydney and Barcelona. What these cities have in common is strict zoning. Our government should relax zoning codes,” he says.

Another problem is the lengthy wait for approval of building plans, which can take up to two years in an urban conservation area.

“The population is growing faster than new houses are being built.”

Good partnerships between national, local, and provincial government are needed, Abader says.

It owns “huge sites” like Culemborg, near Cape Town railway station that could do well as a “mega mixed-use, mixed-income, low-cost” housing project, and contribute to business and employment opportunities and a more integrated society.

Mixed-income and low-cost housing developments are among the catalytic projects needed in Cape Town, he says, adding that the recent identification of sites for low-cost housing around the city centre is a “step in the right direction”.

Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, says the provincial government believes in the importance of partnerships, and the Cape Town Air Access initiative, a key driver for increasing tourism, is an “excellent example” of a public-private partnership.

Furthermore, Fedhasa Cape has recently partnered with the government to reduce water consumption, he says. “More than 100 hotel leaders in the province signed the water-wise pledge, committing their establishments to responsible water use during this crisis.”

Key investments in the province include the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the development of the Industrial Development Zone on the West Coast. The government is also continuing work on the Conradie Better Living Model, Winde says.

“This project will see the development of the 22-hectare former Conradie Hospital site into an integrated, sustainable and affordable mixed-used neighbourhood.The project seeks to bring residents closer to economic opportunities in Cape Town.”

The private sector has been driving major initiatives, Winde says.

“In terms of catalytic projects, we are driving our broadband roll-out to bring affordable internet access to all residents. As government, it is our role to create the right environment for this kind of development. We have committed to reducing red tape to make it easier for businesses to invest here.”

The City of Cape Town is also committed to dealing with the legacy of apartheid spatial planning, says Brett Herron, the city’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development.

“We need to bring our residents closer to work and other opportunities by ensuring that affordable housing opportunities are developed on well-located land, and by pursuing mixed-use developments along transport corridors. The city will leverage our assets and serve as the main and first investor in catalytic projects to attract investment from the private sector.”

This is to be achieved through the City’s Built Environment Performance Plan, which also emphasises the capital investment required from the provincial and national governments and state-owned entities to transform Cape Town’s spatial form and address the dire need for housing and the high cost of public transport.

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