Bellville Conversations: R300 debate

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Jun 28, 2021

Bellville Conversations: debating the pros and cons of the R300 extension

On 8 June, we hosted the next edition of the Bellville Conversations webinar series. We invited three experts to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed extension to the R300 freeway. While not much information is publicly available, the current proposal creates a ring road from Melkbosstrand in the north to Muizenberg in the south. In a discussion facilitated by Kirsten Wilkins, MD of Open Streets Cape Town, the panel – Dr. Mercy Brown-Luthango, senior researcher at African Centre for Cities; Deon van Zyl, Chairperson, Western Cape Property Development Forum; and Justin Coetzee, CEO of GoAscendal and GTP Chair – considered the economic, social and environmental impacts on Bellville.

You can watch the full production here, but we’ve summarised some of the key points below:

  • The project was first conceived around 30 years ago, at a time when social and environmental priorities were very different from today’s focus on mitigating climate change, prioritising public and non-motorised transport, and the need to address the spatial legacy of apartheid-era planning.
  • There is an urgent need to stimulate economic activity to address the crisis of unemployment and poverty that affects all communities across the peninsula. Precedent projects have shown that large-scale infrastructure projects have the potential to stimulate job creation and economic development.
  • In an economy characterised by high unemployment, specifically among youth, there needs to be a serious intervention to attract investment and pump adrenaline into the economy. To achieve this, however, will require tough decisions that may have long-term impacts.
  • The project should not be designed for private cars, but to ensure that the proposal is designed for the economy, which means placing public transport, and the needs of the population who rely on public transport, first.
  • Greater public participation, access to information and better policy-making is urgently needed, to ensure developments such as this project, but development programmes more generally, are designed with the community in mind, to more equitable decisions that can demonstrably improve lives.
  • Development decisions should be based on sound planning principles informed by a cohesive and sustained vision for Cape Town’s future.

Watch the full proceedings here. We’ve also opened up a forum for the community to discuss your thoughts on the project over at Bellville Connect. Join the debate here.

If you want to participate in future Bellville Conversations discussions, contact us.