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Author Topic: Newcastle KZN, South Africa - Revitalising the Central Business District  (Read 885 times)


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Article by Ferdie Alberts, Director of Economic Development, Newcastle, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa
Contact: ferdiea@newcastle.gov.za

The Newcastle Central Business District (CBD) is the economic engine for the town as it hosts residential, retail, commercial, educational, entertainment, government, financial institutions and medical centres. There was concern that when the Newcastle Regional Shopping Mall took off the effects of decentralisation of business could extensively harm the CBD. However, the markets and economic energy displayed by the CBD so far demonstrates its resilience and more recently there have been new developments such as a SuperSpar precinct arriving in the CBD. However, the CBD continues to endure various economic negative externalities whose unintended consequences manifest in a range of problems, harm both business owners and the general public and have the effect of pushing traders out to the malls and convenient neighbourhood complexes.

So Newcastle Municipality is now complementing developments driven by the private sector and government by rolling out a clean-up and improvement campaign to emphasise that the Newcastle CBD is still a key investment destination and space for social interactions.
A range of stakeholders will be involved in the campaign and mobilised for a clear programme of action. The campaign will promote a good culture of compliance and disassociate elements harming the viability of the CBD.

The key elements of the improvement campaign are:
Improving public places and spaces
Dealing with poorly-maintained infrastructure
Promoting better safety and security through design and enforcement (especially in more secluded and poorly-lit CBD areas
Higher standards of basic maintenance (e.g. refuse collection, overgrown grassed areas, filling in potholes) and creating a greener and more sustainable environment
Tackling the conversion of shops to unsuitable land uses not authorised
Adopting new cultures of leisure and outdoor activity
Tackling thoughtless parking and traffic congestion, and improving road marking and signage.
Examining opportunities to make some streets pedestrian-only.
Building a positive image and future for the CBD
Tackling buildings that have become rundown

The municipality will consider whether to create a City/ Business Improvement District (BID), a systematic approach designed to reverse urban decay and re-instill new life and energy into business districts via a new business-led vehicle, in partnership with the municipality.
Public resources are more limited these days so the municipality will re-engineer and reorganise its resources to mitigate this. The campaign will not only build new collaborations but also consciousness and civic pride among the public that Newcastle is on the new road map towards a city. We have already demonstrated this publicly by erecting the state of the art civic centre, which not only serves the public but reaffirms our commitment green buildings in 21 Century.

Our vision is that by working together and better use of resources a revitalised CBD can be created and maintained – where people can walk from their flats through safe pedestrian boulevards to places of work, socially network in the public assembly places and enjoy the abundance of shopping and also entertainment and outdoor life during the evening hours.


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