Reflecting on the year that was

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Dec 3, 2019

We’ve come to the end of another year in Bellville. Our CEO, Warren Hewitt reflects back on the last year in which we connected people, places and partners. You can download our annual report, too, which provide more detail about our operations over the past financial year.

The year under review kicked off with our annual conference, held in July 2018. The theme for that conference was Why Bellville? It was a pertinent question, raised to highlight the business case for private and institutional investment in Bellville, Parow and surrounds. We followed that up with an intensive research programme that sought to fully discover Bellville’s value proposition. This work has set the scene for a very positive trajectory for the area, and for our work ahead.

This work lays the foundation for us to maximise Bellville’s potential as a mature, affordable and accessible urban area, and to lead its transition into a modern African city with a diverse economy and multi-cultural community.

We are focused on delivering our own mandate while also conscious that urban renewal requires the sustained effort, involvement, participation and hard work from all stakeholders.

In all aspects, we rely heavily on the relationships formed with multiple partners who are committed to spurring the growth, development and progress of the Bellville central business district (CBD) and surrounding areas. These partners include the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District, and the many corporates, academic institutions, small and medium-sized businesses, non-governmental organisations and individuals who share our vision. These relationships support our role as a development facilitation agency, leading Bellville’s urban transition and building a 24-hour economy that will inject new life into the area.

Some of the changes we are driving will happen in smaller increments which have seen the light over the past year. These include regular events such as the Bellville Market; the GTP Urban Trail Run and the five-a-side soccer tournaments; a growing portfolio of street art that beautifies prominent sites across Bellville and Parow; the creation of the aspirational Bellville Zero Waste initiative and the exceptionally exciting introduction of a community health care centre, installed at the public transport interchange with the support of the Cipla Foundation.

Some of these projects are still fledgling ideas seeking a tipping point into success, while others are more established and have gained good traction. One example is the successful implementation of the Bellville Zero Waste initiative implemented with DF Malan High School, a high profile school in the heart of Bellville. This programme was designed to be easily replicated and we will be taking it into other schools over the next year.

Another project is the GTP Express, which is growing in popularity, with its blend of great coffee, convenient snacks, an information centre and meeting place in the Bellville CBD. During the next year, we will be rolling out plans for the next edition, while also launching a food-truck style mobile edition in the form of GTP Express ‘On the Move’, designed to help generate revenues while taking the GTP’s extended brand out into the community.

The Trolley Project was also launched to provide opportunities for informal waste pickers to earn a more predictable income, while also diverting recyclable materials from landfill.

We launched Bellville Connect, a ground-breaking platform designed to connect Bellville’s businesses with consumers via an online directory-based presence and also a sophisticated app that will enable us to connect Bellville digitally. We are excited about the possibilities for this platform and are continuing to develop it for maximum impact.

These projects are developing alongside more aspirational, longer-term initiatives which will require investment partnership and development, such as:

– An inner-city Innovation and Development Centre, to promote entrepreneurship, develop skills and create jobs

– The systematic upgrade of the Cape Town metropole’s busiest transport interchange

– The collaboration and development of Hardekraaltjie into an integrated bioscience sports precinct with related residential accommodation

– The construction of a community Five’s Football centre

Through each of these projects, and others, we bring to bear our ability to find solutions through partnerships. As always, we welcome the participation and involvement of partners who are able to help unlock those solutions.

Data is a key driver in success. To this end, we undertook various research projects, not only to establish Bellville’s core value proposition, but also to truly understand the significant opportunities that exist here. Some highlights include:

– A consumer and residents’ shopping behaviour survey

– A survey into the working lives of informal traders

– An analysis of pedestrian activity

– An analysis of the affordable accommodation offering

– A comparison of Bellville’s base assets, including healthcare, education, transport and services, against other major cities such as Kigali, Manchester and Pittsburgh, among others

– An overview of the inherent potential of the Urban Development Zone

– A security and social needs analysis of businesses in the Teddington Precinct

To this end, we undertook various research projects, not only to establish Bellville’s core value proposition encapsulate Bellville’s offering. The Discover Bellville value proposition, a full GTP project prospectus and a comprehensive booklet focusing on affordable accommodation, all help to consolidate the message that the Bellville opportunity is real and ready for the taking by investors who know there is potential to be found here.

We will continue to add to this library of knowledge over the next year and beyond.

We can see evidence on the ground that Bellville is starting to boom. The R1.2 billion mixed-use development at the Parow Centre, the University of the Western Cape’s new Community and Health Sciences building, the South African Medical Research Council’s Genomics Centre, Devmark’s Galleria development, and various others, all show increasing confidence in Bellville as an investment destination.

We are grateful to the academics, designers, visionaries, policy-makers, developers, business owners and residents who have worked with us over the years, to devise and implement ideas that can uplift Bellville’s CBD, create jobs and drive economic growth and development.

Over the next year, we want to invite all our partners, visitors and investors to Discover Bellville in more depth. I am optimistic about Bellville’s future. It is the most opportunistic area in the country. We’re building on what we already have, because what we have is steeped in possibility.

We are connecting people, places and partners to the many possibilities that exist. Thank you to our partners for your support. And thank you, to my team, for all your hard work.