Facilitating an urban transition The Vootrekker Road Corridor (VRC) has long been the economic backbone of the Cape Town Metropole, forming the link between the Bellville and Cape Town central business districts (CBD).

As an important business node, the VRC has the potential to stimulate job creation which promotes economic growth for the region. However, to succeed, this requires a planned programme — a facilitated transition — of unlocking resources, identifying opportunities and building effective partnerships. It also requires a catalyst to start. The region is ready for a facilitated urban transition, and the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) is the catalyst for that transition. The GTP’s primary mandate is to unlock the inherent opportunities for Cape Town’s second most important business node.

It has three core goals:
– To facilitate the transition to a vibrant, economically inclusive urban area
– To create a connected community
– To build a 24-hour economy

Building on what already exists The Bellville and Parow CBDs lie at the heart of the VRC. Together, they are rich with what GTP CEO Warren Hewitt calls opportunity infrastructure. This is the infrastructure already in place — multi-directional, multi-modal transport links; prioritised development policies such as the Urban Development Zone (UDZ) and the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP); fast fibre internet infrastructure and development opportunities in the form of existing buildings with large floor-plates ideal for high-density employment.

This all forms a solid foundation for employers seeking to create jobs and expand their operations away from high-value, over-subscribed centres elsewhere. Future planning comes into play, too. The City of Cape Town’s own integrated development plans, a commitment to transit-oriented development, and visions for the physical improvement of public spaces all dovetail into the canvas of infrastructure already in place. But vibrant urban centres are not only built on what happens inside the buildings. What happens outside is also a critical component. 24-hour economy A thriving 24-hour economy needs to provide sufficient amenity to serve people’s needs, such as safe, well-managed, affordable accommodation. We are already seeing a growing student population in the region, which contributes to a more vibrant 24-hour social community. But students need to know their needs are catered for. Support businesses such as internet cafes, book stores and coffee shops are as important as the more leisurely outlets of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.

With strong transport links and growing employment opportunities, this kind of vibrant environment could also be extended to offer more diverse affordable accommodation options for middle-income first-time buyers. Connected communities and finally, a connected community is not only connected virtually. It is also connected physically. Public spaces such as Elizabeth Park, the soon-to- be refurbished Kruskal Avenue and the Elsies River Green belt are obvious opportunities for people to interact. Events such as markets and street festivals can also connect different communities. The Bellville and Parow CBDs offer colour, texture and energy drawn from diverse communities that originate from multiple cultures. It is what makes the VRC unique among more homogenous regions.

Bringing it all together The greatest potential for building human capital lies in cities, towns and urban business nodes. But to build a productive economy, other factors must be brought into the equation: a facilitated transition to a highly connected community within a vibrant 24-hour centre. Collaborations, policy and prospective returns fill in the spaces in between.

In its role as development facilitation agency for the Greater Tygerberg area, the GTP pulls each strand together, to build an inclusive, vibrant and economically prosperous area in which to invest, live, work and play. The GTP’s role is to facilitate connections and initiate projects that will help us achieve the vision we have for the region. All stakeholders within the region are invited to play a role, says Warren Hewitt, CEO of the GTP: “The partnerships we build are an essential part of the work we do. We’re inviting organisations and individuals who share our vision to join us on the journey to make it a reality.” If you want to know more about the GTP’s programmes and projects, or to get involved email warren.hewitt@gtp.org.za.