Gauteng plans Mega Projects to house people

8 April 2015

The Gauteng city region is moving away from unplanned, sporadic housing developments towards providing human settlements, according to Premier David Makhura, who launched the province’s Mega Projects on 7 April at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg.

Mega Projects would lead to unprecedented radical transformation of human settlements and spatial planning in Gauteng over the next 10 years.

“Spatial transformation is the mandate of the new administration to boost infrastructure investment. Building of the new cities is a new journey and central to our planning so that people can benefit through job creation and other investments,” said Makhura.

There would be a lot of innovative planning in the next few years and changes in the provincial government. Serious planning would stop private sector, municipal and provincial projects that were not desirable. “We are breaking away from the old mode of development of small projects and developing large scale projects of no less than 15 000 units.”

Under the programme, all spheres of government and the private sector would work together to build human settlements. “This new human settlement paradigm is centred on planning, partnerships and participation,” the premier said.

“We’ve had a virtual collapse of planning and I want to put to the challenge to municipalities because they are the area of government where this is critical. We should not try to control and prevent development but we must direct desirable development.”

Planning was about “designing the vision of where we want to go where the public’s interests will not be compromised but will be prioritised”.

Quick application turnaround

The environmental impact assessments municipalities conducted were a waste of time as they were marred by countless delays. “Time wasted is money lost and opportunity lost.”

Lack of information regarding their applications may drive developers who wanted to establish projects to other municipalities or provinces.

“We have now taken a decision that you will get development approvals within three months,” Makhura said. Municipalities had agreed to simplify tender-approval processes and expedite environment impact-assessment certificate application.

The premier also warned business about poor workmanship. “We have had instances where people had built without approval and parts of big shopping malls had collapsed when people were visiting them, assuming they were safe. We must go back to the old city planning model.”

He spoke about inclusive developments in Gauteng’s five development corridors to do away with the exclusive enclave of the rich as well as accommodate low income development. In place of “poverty-stricken human settlements”, mega housing projects would establish residential areas comprising 15 000 to 60 000 units, complete with amenities such as schools, parks, health facilities, infrastructure and light industry.

Mega Projects follows the announcement of Makhura’s strategy of radical transformation, modernisation and reindustrialisation (TMR) of the province.

In-migration

Housing is a concern in Gauteng given the ongoing in-migration, which has resulted in 408 informal settlements as many economic migrants cannot afford formal housing and accommodation.

Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo said that with the launch of Mega Projects, the province aimed to turn around the human settlements space in the Gauteng city region.

“We are now going big and clustering human settlements projects so that the yield per mega project can be big enough to make a huge dent in getting more people into homes. Gone are the days of disjointed housing projects spread across all empty spaces in municipalities,” he said, speaking ahead of the official launch.

“Serious planning will stop private-sector, municipal and provincial projects that are not desirable. We are breaking away from the old mode of development of small projects and [will] develop large-scale projects of no less than 15 000 units.”

Makhura said his administration would deliver 700 000 houses in four years, relying on funding of R11.2-billion annually – R6-billion from the Gauteng department of human settlements, R5-billion from the Urban Settlement Development Grant to Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, and a R200-million grant from the government.

The provincial government would also look into the possibility of providing serviced stands to individuals, allowing them to build their own houses.

Mega Projects aims to deliver more than 800 000 houses within 30 residential developments spread across the five development corridors in Gauteng, namely:

  • The Central Development Corridor anchored on the city of Johannesburg as the hub of finance, services, information and communication technology, and pharmaceutical industries;
  • The Eastern Development Corridor built around the economy of the Ekurhuleni metro as the hub of manufacturing, logistics and transport industries;
  • The Northern Development Corridor anchored on Tshwane as the administrative capital city and the hub of the automotive sector, research, development, innovation and the knowledge-based economy;
  • The Western Corridor encompassing the economy of the West Rand district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and new cities; and,
  • The Southern Corridor encompassing the economy of the Sedibeng district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and new cities.

The R100-billion economic corridor investment was announced in March by the premier during his State of the Province address.

Business buy-in

Business had bought into the plans for housing “mega projects”, complete with government services, light-industry manufacturing, agricultural land and retail over the next five to 10 years, according to Mamabolo and Makhura.

Makhura said the provincial government, Gauteng’s 12 municipalities and 43 construction companies had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the precinct model.

SAinfo reporter