Grand pedestrian plans for Durban CBD
Durbanites will soon have their own Canal Walk in the CBD, and Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street will become a pedestrian park after hours and ultimately will close to traffic.
The proposed linear park.
The eThekwini municipality is rapidly working towards re-engineering the city, creating an efficient and safe central business district.
Traffic management is expected to change, litter disappear, and whole new nodes will be opened up.
Speaking at the launch of the Clean My City programme yesterday, a plan which aims to create a safe, clean and bustling inner city, municipal architect Jonathan Edkins said we could expect to see changes in the coming months, in the run-up to the 'world cup' of architecture, the XXV International Union of Architect World Congress, from August 3 to 7 .
'We want people and tourists to feel safe walking on clean roads, with people being cared for, and we want to experiment with the plan by creating a night-shopping experience,' he said.
In August, when the city will host about 7 000 international delegates, Dr Pixley KaSeme Street will be closed to traffic after hours and opened for business to pedestrians.
'We are in discussions with business owners. If you go to other tourist cities, you will see the shops and restaurants trade till late at night. This doesn't happen in Durban.'
While the city had hoped for two major legacy projects would be completed, this will not happen.
'But we will work towards getting those projects off the ground, which will change the way things are done in the inner city centre,' said Edkins.
The Linear Park project includes changing Dr Pixley KaSeme Street into a 'pedestrian only' street. The 2.6km stretch between Oliver Tambo Parade and Brooke Street, will see trees and plants flourishing, with outdoor cafes and play areas for children.
Another major project involves converting Milne Street into a 'Rivertown'. A canal runs along this street. And the old beerhall is presently being extensively redeveloped.
While the Point Waterfront has previously been the focus of city development, Durban's Margaret Mncadi Waterfront is now set for major changes, aimed at increasing tourist activity and investment in the area.
Conservation areas will also be created.
Jonathan Edkins, city architect, said Durban had a grand view of the harbour area, but the area was not properly 'purposed' and there was a huge opportunity for the area to grow.
'We want to reshape the space between the buildings and the harbour, and create an area where people can move easily from one point to the next,' said Edkins.
He said stationing the Urban Management Zone security officers on the ground around the city centre, including the embankment area, had instilled a sense of safety in the area.
'We've got those security issues under control but people still perceive it to be a rundown area,' said Edkins.
He said plans had been drawn up for a fresh new look in the area that would stimulate economic activity.
Restaurants, mid-income houses, shopping areas, luxury apartments and hotels are all on the cards.
'There are also lifestyle plans such as a picnic park, a women's-only mosque, a temple, an art gallery. There will be a variety of things on offer,' he said.
Apart from the picnic area, the city aims to create a mangrove eco-centre and waterfront gardens as 'green' zones.
As the city had the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in mind, Edkins said there was a move to strengthening the Kings Park sporting precinct. An international cycling centre, a world aquatic or canoe wetland park and an international multifunctional outdoor sports centre were on the cards for the area, building on from the stadium.
'If we want to attract the conferences and the sporting events, then we need the facilities,' he said.