GTP Conference 2018

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Why Bellville is going places

The Greater Tygerberg Partnership hosted 160 representatives from the public and private sector at its annual conference held on Tuesday 24 July. Asking the question Why Bellville?, the conference explored the area’s current opportunities, public sector development plans and showcased some of the private companies and individuals doing exceptional things in Bellville and beyond.

The morning began with a welcome from GTP CEO Warren Hewitt, which was followed by presentations from the City of Cape Town’s Acting Commissioner for Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA), Gershwin Fortune, and the City’s Director: Catalytic Projects, Frank Cumming. Both reaffirmed the City’s commitment to Bellville as an important node in Cape Town. The City of Cape Town has renewed its investment in the GTP for the next three years, and is also calling on the broader sector to join it in developing an exciting and inclusive African city.

Key transport projects that lie ahead include the co-ordination of the Public Transport Interchange in Bellville and Parow and an upgrade for the Blue Downs rail corridor, a project that has already received investment from national government and PRASA and is projected to happen over the next five to eight years.

Cumming called on those present to respond realistically to Bellville’s economic landscape and identified an opportunity around more affordable housing, especially student housing.

Leading the charge on investment and development was developer George Georgiou of Evolution Property Management, who is capitalizing on transport Orientated Development (TOD) by extending to R2 billion their development of the Parow Centre, which is entering phase two, with an additional 95 000 m2 office and retail extension and the addition of 1 200 affordable housing units adjacent to the shopping centre and transport links.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) also showcased its long-term investment in Bellville, with a sneak peek at the first operational day of the brand new Faculty of Community and Health Sciences in the Bellville CBD. UWC’s Director of Institutional Planning, Lois Dippenaar stressed that academic facilities remain key institutions in urban life both in terms of its contribution to the population but also because of its active involvement in the evolution of an area. UWC plans to invest a further R420 million worth of infrastructure in Bellville over the next 3 years.

One of GTP’s institutional supporters, Sanlam, has been a key corporate role player in the area with 5 500 employees based at its head office on Voortrekker Road. Ian Erlank, Senior Facilities Manager at Sanlam detailed its history and growth since moving to Bellville in 1953.  He said that corporates needed to be invested in their surrounding social and environmental issues and congratulated the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District as well as the GTP — in making a noticeable improvement in the level of crime in the area.

Sustnet’s Dr Pieter van Heyningen said that Africa will have an additional 1.2 billion people by 2050 and said this was a motivating factor for citizens and investors to respond to their environment, using sustainability as a lens. He called for a focus on smaller, leaner projects which could be completed and inspire bigger ideas. Van Heyningen also noted that Bellville needed to focus on creating clusters around sectors, like the metals industry.

Delegates also heard from Innovate Durban’s Aurelia Albert, who is inspiring young people to take ownership of their opportunities, through innovation; and Ellen Fischat, co-founder of Innocircle and Story Room, who spoke about developing trust in communities through real listening and consistency.

The call to view Bellville as an African city was a common theme for many speakers including Aurecon’s Director of Innovation and Transformation, Abbas Jamie, who mused that Africa should really be spelled Afrika as over 200 African dialects spell it as such. He cautioned against focusing on technical solutions to the wrong problems, saying that it was important to imagine a future Bellville through the lens of design thinking – putting the end user first in the design process.

Global design champion, Mokena Makeka, also pointed out that public spaces play a key role in reconnecting people who have previously been separated. In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he sees unparalleled access but also complexity and confusion. Mokeka suggested a focus on an adaptive low tech/smart grid city infrastructure with an emphasis on access and localised renewal. He highlighted Bellville’s unique opportunity to densify intelligently and the key role an organisation like the GTP can play in facilitating this

During the day, the delegates work-shopped ideas that could support the GTP in achieving it three key goals: a 24 hour economy, connected community (through connected transport, Wi-Fi and culture) and a facilitated urban transition to support safety, cleanliness and social development. The programme ended off with an inspirational talk from extreme adventurer David Grier, who has run over 25 000km over the last 12 years in pursuit of personal change and as his contribution to the South African story.

CEO Warren Hewitt said that the day was just one part of the GTP’s ongoing engagement with the Bellville community: “We have to work collectively to define the planning process. To this end we are calling on partners from the area and beyond who can assist us in nurturing new ideas and change-making projects. Bellville is an exciting space to be in so let’s talk.”


The speaker line-up for the GTP Conference 2018 included the below visionary urban thinkers, innovative designers and committed development experts who offered their perspectives on the transition to a thriving urban centre, by maximising Bellville’s existing opportunities.


CEO Greater Tygerberg Partnership

Warren is responsible for the success of the GTP. He is a Chartered Accountant (SA) who spent seven years in the hospitality sector, three years in the retail sector and nine years in senior leadership positions in the logistics industry – first as CEO of Laser Logistics and then as Strategic Business Development Executive at the Laser Group. His biggest priorities are to turn the GTP into a well funded organisation that adds real value to all residents, businesses and investors in the area.


Acting Commissioner Transport and Urban Development Authority

Gershwin has 19 years’ relevant work experience which includes predominantly local government and, to a lesser extent, international experience as an urban transport specialist for the World Bank.


Director: Catalytic Projects City of Cape Town

Frank is public-spirited and passionate about developing thriving communities. He is a regeneration specialist, with over 15 years’ corporate real estate experience across the mixed-use, residential development and investment markets. Frank held senior management positions at several leading UK property developers, completing some of Europe’s most complex mixed-use regeneration schemes. Stratford City – Olympic 2012; Kings Cross Central and the London Wide Initiative, among others.
Frank is motivated by bold thinking that challenges convention, with a love for South Africa and city life


Director Institutional Planning, University of the Western Cape

Loïs Dippenaar started her career as a teacher in 1992. Two years later she moved to the Presidency and worked in various capacities in the offices of former presidents FW de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. After almost seven years in the Presidency, in September 2000, she joined the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and has been part of the Institutional Planning unit since 2003, which is responsible for supporting the University’s vision in terms of infrastructure planning and engaging with role-players in the sub-region.


Founding Partner Sustnet

Pieter has a PhD in innovation systems for sustainability transitions. . He has also been firmly rooted in business through the establishment of his consultancy, SustNet, which he founded in 2011. Pieter has several years of international experience, including seven years in Taiwan, Sweden and Austria — time which he believes has contributed the most to his thinking and perspectives. Pieter’s more recent passion lies in analysing, conceptualising, developing and managing spatial innovation systems for clients in South Africa and Africa.


Interim CEO Innovate Durban

Innovate Durban was established to support and promote innovation in Durban. With a background in economics, Aurelia’s previous work involved industrial development within the manufacturing consulting environment, and a researcher within the Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit in the eThekwini Municipality. Her passion lies in innovation management and social development. She has a love for Durban and a passion for positive change within the city.


Co-Founder Innocircle & Story Room

Ellen holds an Honours degree in Social Work and Community Development. She has extensive experience in small business development, with a focus on social enterprises and technology and is passionate about community outreach programmes that focus on digital literacy and social inclusion.


Director Innovation and Transformation Aurecon

Abbas is passionate about developing Afrikan solutions and has conceptualised the Afrikan Design Innovation narrative which encourages engineers, architects, planners, designers and allied professionals to embrace trans-disciplinary and participatory ethnographic tools in their quest for more creative and innovative Afrikan solutions.

Abbas is also the Community Liaison Africa for the World Design Organisation.


Managing Director Makeka Design Lab

Makeka Design Lab is an internationally recognised design practice that deploys innovative design solutions at urban, architectural, cultural and installation scale. Mokena has worked on and led numerous complex local and international construction projects, including the Cape Town International Convention Centre, V&A Waterfront and the Royal Palace of Lesotho. Mokena was also part of the FIFA 2010 World Cup Arts and Culture Task Team.

He is an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Program Fellow and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader


Inspirational speaker Chef and extreme adventurer

Extreme athlete, the first person in history to run the entire length of The Great Wall of China in both directions. David Grier has been on an extreme global journey of 25 000 km over the past 12 years of searching for personal change in order to deliver a meaningful contribution to the South African story.