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P I C T U R E : A G U N G PA N D I T

PROPERTY

360

BETTER CITIES DESIGNED B Y, A N D F O R , WOMEN PA G E S 2 & 3

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If Africa’s cities were designed by women they would offer wider pavements and safer spaces.

If women were doing the city planning...

Our urban areas are not female friendly. Here four African women dream of the cities they would like to see their daughters grow up in, focusing on safety, transport and accessibility BONNY FOURIE bronwyn.fourie@inl.co.za

S Bonny Fourie bronwyn.fourie@inl.co.za Gugu Sithole-Ngobese, founding chairperson of Women in Planning SA (WiPSA). The city I see my daughter living in is one where she has as many opportunities to be as successful as her brother – where her gender does not limit her, and she feels safe and supported by her neighbours and community. She should not have to think about the ways in which she is limited by the way her city is designed. She should see herself in her local policy makers, and she should know that they are making decisions on her behalf and in her best interests. South Africa’s cities have not been built to suit the needs of women. And one of the key areas in which planning and urban design has failed, particularly in this country, is in the area of gender mainstreaming which is the practice of ensuring that all genders, particularly women, are accounted for equally in policy, legislation and resource allocation in all areas and at all levels. In spatial planning – both urban and rural, it is about considering how different gender groups use public spaces. City planning needs to consider who is using

OUTH AFRICA’S cities were not designed with women in mind. From insufficient pavements and safe walking spaces to scarce public toilets and family facilities, the country’s cities do not factor in the needs of the women and children who use them. So, how would our cities differ if they were designed by women? We asked four professionals with strong influence in built urban environments what their city design would entail. These are their plans:

the space, the number of people, how they use it, why they use it, and where most uses take place. With more than half of the population of South Africa being female, our country’s cities need to be planned with women in mind. Women are the primary caregivers of our society, and studies have shown that by designing cities with women in mind, the entire city benefits. So, following the frameworks provided by cities such as Trappes in France, Turku in Finland, and most notably Vienna in Austria, South Africa could benefit from the following improvements: •Providing public transport outside peak hours as women use public transport more often and make more trips on foot when compared to men. We also have more varied transport routes as we go between doctor’s appointments, fetch children from school, and go grocery shopping, while men are more likely to leave for work in the morning and return home in the evening without making additional trips during the day. •Developing wider pavements and staircases with ramps to allow for prams and wheelchairs. •Providing additional

Bonny Fourie bronwyn.fourie@inl. co.za

street lighting to make it safer for women to walk at night. •Increasing the number of public toilets, especially for women. By increasing the number of public restrooms, sexual assault could be reduced by 30%. •There are babychanging facilities in malls, shopping centres and restaurants, but we need more of these elsewhere. In places like taxi ranks, parents need to be able to change their children in safe and clean environments. •Increase the number of affordable and accessible childcare centres throughout cities so that all parents – from domestic workers to businesspeople – have access. These should provide safe, qualified child minders to parents who are unable to watch

Women have always been central to urban life, and in African cities particularly, roles they play have roots in colonial times when men were able to find work in the mining and construction sectors and women were excluded from these jobs. Therefore to earn their livelihoods and support their families, they started commercialising their domestic skills. Today, much of this split in type of work remains: the limited number of formal sector jobs in African cities is usually undertaken by men while there is a predominance of women in the informal services sector. In my city, Kampala in Uganda, an estimated 70% of single-person businesses in the informal sector are run by women. In addition, women bear most of the burden of the family domestic work, including childcare. Yet, in many African cities, this difference in role is not taken into account in their designs. For example, movement to and from a wage job may require an average of two trips a day but moving between an informal job – such as in a market place, child care (if it exists), and home can require many smaller trips. Furthermore, research has shown that not only is the highest modal share

of trips in African cities undertaken by foot, most of those who are walking are women. Yet many cities simply lack sufficient pavements – which means pedestrians are competing with motorised transport for their space on the road. In terms of design features, pavements are critical to improving walkability, good for everyone but especially for women. I would also conjecture that African cities designed by women would make larger provision for quality public spaces that encourage community use, ownership and ultimately citizens’ own investments in the city. This is not only an important feature for children but also for enabling interaction and innovation to take place, which is one of the powers of cities. I would ensure that there are more benches around

cities to allow women carrying goods to and from the market, women carrying children, or even children walking to be able to sit and take breaks. This is also important for those who are still breastfeeding, for example. Street-lighting is a further design feature critical to everyone but especially women: work does not finish when the sun goes down, but security and safety often does. Finally, an important but often overlooked design feature that I would advocate for are street names, monuments and other public edifices honouring, enshrining and celebrating female heroism and ingenuity. These are largely missing in cities across the world today but would inspire my daughter and other little girls for generations to come.


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Letter from the editor

Lerato Peu

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING AT MERAFONG LOCAL CITY MUNICIPALITY

Zeenat Ghoor

DIRECTOR AT ASPIRE CONSULTING ENGINEERING SOUTH AFRICAN cities have historically been designed based on apartheid principles. Our cities were designed around decentralised neighbourhoods and included incorporating infrastructure that would segregate and keep races apart and separate people with different levels of income. Cities were designed to incorporate a car-based transport system. Post-apartheid planning has tried to incorporate transport modules from outside the city centres and has tried to decentralise city centres. Most public transport in South Africa is now the minibus taxi. For women to feel safe and included the following elements need to be present: • Access – using services and spaces in the public arena free of issues and concerns around safety. • Mobility – moving around the city safely, easily and affordably. • Safety and freedom from violence – being free from danger in public and private spaces. • Health and hygiene – living and working in healthy spaces. • Climate resilience.

• Security – accessing and owning land and housing to live, work and build wealth that is safe. We need to consider how and where we work, play, exercise, go to school and get health services. These spaces need to be safe, clean and accessible. These are the aspects I would incorporate in the design space: • Public toilets: Women need more space in a bathroom for prams and children and to cater for the fact women sit down when using toilets. Bathrooms should be bigger and have changing tables for babies. • Inclusive spaces that allow for a variety of recreational activities like soccer, playgrounds and using benches to demarcate the space for playing. • Cleaner cities by having more bins and sustainable paving. • Women-only transit opportunities such as designated bus areas for women only, especially during off-peak hours. • Designated spaces for women where they can go for help – like booths or emergency call boxes to make calls. • Mobile apps showing locations of public transport so women don’t have to stand and wait. • More light, more cameras and greater visibility.

THE VOICE of women within the planning and engineering spaces is yet to be heard, especially in the private sector. A few individuals have made strides but we are nowhere near where we ought to be. This is important, given that women generally bear the brunt of poor planning. If I were to design a city, it would be based on the core principles of structural resilience and social justice. From the onset, the design, look and feel of the cities must be able to weather all sorts of pressures. The cases of New York, London and to a large extent Cape Town, and how they have remained resilient and relevant over time, come to mind. There has to be a consistent and deliberate intention to continuously support and re-engineer the cities, otherwise they become economic risks for investors and uncontrollable liabilities for the government. In terms of social justice, women should never be intimidated when walking alone at night in any major city. This is the ideal city. I would want my daughters to live in spaces (cities) that symbolise: • National strength through equality between races, classes and sexes through design. • Economic empowerment where cities offer ample opportunities for all people. • Sustainable spaces where people work, live, play and learn. • On the lighter side, we want cities to have a sense of identity, to offer cultural experiences

through music and art. Some of the major social ills facing South Africa today include poverty, unemployment and inequality, and cities should be responsive in dealing with these challenges as they affect mostly women. Even though all major cities predate democracy, it is imperative that authorities prioritise the continuous modelling of cities to suit current trends and social needs. Our cities should be accessible to accommodate various means of transport within a systematically friendly hierarchy of arterials for both the pedestrian and the motorist. The design should support economic and social integration between the motorist and pedestrian. The case today is that most cities are designed for the motorist, not so much the street vendor, the cyclist and pedestrian. Cities should be places of work and should promote mixed-use areas for various income groups. Johannesburg and Cape Town are classic example of cities that offer residence for two extreme ends of the income spectrum. While Johannesburg is affordable, most of the residents are lowerincome groups and often illegal occupants of buildings with zero to little tenure/ownership. Cape Town, on the other hand, is unattainable for the average local. The layout of cities should expose criminal activity and offer high levels of public safety and interaction. Social amenities also play an important role in the functionality of cities. Given that families interact with cities daily, it is only common sense to have more parks, museums and restaurants spread across the entire city.

DISCLAIMER: The publisher and editor of this magazine give no warranties, guarantees or assurances and make no representations regarding any goods or services advertised within this edition. Copyright ANA Publishing. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written consent from ANA Publishing. The publishers are not responsible for any unsolicited material. Publisher Vasantha Angamuthu vasantha@africannewsagency Executive Editor Property Vivian Warby vivian.warby@inl.co.za Features Writer Property Bonny Fourie bronwyn.fourie@inl.co.za Design Kim Stone kim.stone@inl.co.za

THERE is a post doing the rounds on Facebook asking if there is any woman who has not walked holding her keys as a weapon or turned a corner in a city and run because she feels unsafe. It could also have asked which city mother hasn’t had problems pushing a child’s pram on unpaved kerbs or which women struggle with multiple trips just to get to work. As women, our experiences and needs of a city are unique. But as roles change, some basic town planning necessities that are being overlooked are actually important to all. Because women haven’t been involved to the degree necessary in how our cities should be designed, the cities do not necessarily reflect our needs. This is sadly what happens when we have cities built and designed to exclude. And sometimes poor planning happens because it’s not the town planners’ lived experience. I feel privileged that we have been able to tap into the wisdom of four top women in property, who have helped us delve into what a city designed for women could look like. It’s exciting, inspiring and powerful. They tell us it will take more than town planning departments becoming more femaleorientated in order for cities to be better designed for women. What it will take, they say, is changes to government policies. To this end, we hope those in power get to read these ideas from women whom we admire in the profession. When we know better, we can do better. We will certainly keep this story alive with the hope that one day we will see truly inclusive cities – if not in our lifetime, then certainly in the lifetime of our daughters and nieces. Warm regards

Vivian Warby vivian.warby@inl.co.za


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Investing in a pool before you sell is a double-edged sword as some people love them while others hate them.

Coping with noisy neighbours Experts give tips to people who need to know how to deal with unacceptable sound levels and other property queries BY BONNY FOURIE bronwyn.fourie@inl.co.za Q: My neighbours are very noisy and often keep us awake at night. Our neighbourhood is also very noisy due to its location on a fairly busy road and the fact that everyone seems to be renovating their homes or gardens. We seem to be surrounded by noise. I have not complained, as I do not want to be “that” person, but at what point do we draw the line and actually say something to someone or report them? And if we do this, which is the best way to approach it? A: South African law makes a distinction between “disturbing noise” and “noise nuisance”. The first is objective and is defined as a scientifically measurable noise level, such as a loud party where music is played at midnight at a volume where the lyrics are audible to neighbours. The second is a subjective measure and is defined as any noise that disturbs or impairs the convenience or peace of anyone, like the incessant barking of a neighbour’s dog. Both are illegal in terms of the Environment Conservation Act but, while the first is usually effectively handled with a call to the police, the latter is not always as simple. To show that a “noise nuisance” exists, a reasonable person must find a certain noise intolerable or seriously affecting his enjoyment of his property. It may come

down to a court applying a test of objective reasonableness. In residential areas, the enforcement is by the local authority and there are various penalties, provided it is shown that the noise actually exceeds acceptable levels. Generally, the guilty party will be asked to stop making the noise and, if he fails to do so, further steps can be taken such as fines issued by the authorities or an action brought to court by the complainant. However, this final step should be carefully considered and complainants must ensure they have all their ducks in a row as payment for the costs usually depends on the outcome with the courts ordering the unsuccessful party to settle the costs. – Eduan Milner, Eduan Milner Attorneys, Notaries and Conveyancers Q: We are considering installing a pool at our home but are in two minds. We will obviously get use out of it, but because we live close to the beach it is not a necessity, more a desire. What will having a pool do to our property value or appeal when we do eventually sell? A: Investing in a pool is often a doubleedged sword, because while many people do like pools, others don’t like them and may even hate them. It is often best to have a pool in areas that attract families. However smaller pools with simpler

designs are now more popular, and the 50m² pools of yesterday are not ideal due to maintenance costs. Most pools are now either splash pools or simple in shape to allow for easy enclosing/covering. – Marcél du Toit, chief executive of Leadhome Q: When my son went to university I purchased a small apartment for him. He has completed his studies now and, since we have no need for the property or a rental income, we want to sell. It would suit a student or even contract workers. How best can I market this property in order to get the best price despite the current market? A: Ease of access to transport routes, good internet access and security are likely to be key. There is a seasonality to the demand for student accommodation so, when the property is marketed, this should be carefully considered. Factor in the time it takes to transfer ownership and for refurbishments to be done before it goes to market. There is less seasonality with regard to the commuter market as contracts terminate and begin throughout the year. – Paul Stevens, chief executive of Just Property Q: We may sell our property this year but are not sure when. We don’t want it to sit on the market and we want our full asking price. How do we know when it is the best time to list it?

A: The average listing time is a useful measure of whether the market generally is moving in favour of buyers or of sellers. When the national average listing time gets longer, it is an indication that a buyers’ market is developing and that sellers may need to become increasingly accommodating with regard to both price and terms in order get their properties sold. On the other hand, when the national average listing time becomes shorter, it indicates an overall market shift in favour of sellers – and also the likelihood of property prices becoming less negotiable and possibly even starting to rise if the supply of homes for sale continues to shrink in the face of high buyer demand. However, it is important to remember that national averages can mask very big differences between various segments of the market. There are also always variations between different suburbs. As an owner who wants to sell a property within the current average listing time in your specific area, you will need your agent’s help to fine-tune your asking price and get it as close as possible to what buyers in that area are currently paying for similar homes. Then you need to market the property as soon as possible to the biggest possible audience of potential buyers. – Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of RealNet


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UNBELIEVABLE VALUE... 4/5 BEDROOM FAMILY HOME ++ SEPARATE 2 BED COTTAGE Seeing in believing..... this is a large family winner!! MAIN HOUSE has 4/5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 lounges, separate dining room, large gourmet kitchen, 2 covered entertainment patios overlooking level established garden with pool. Double garage & tandem carport. COTTAGE has large open plan lounge/granite kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Single auto garage & carport. Call AMANDA 079 528 0942


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AUCTIONS There is a commonly held belief that property auctions are a good place to pick up a bargain because auctioneers often handle sales in execution / property reposessions / liquidations. Our dedicated auction section allows auctioneers to showcase their properties to buyers looking for these bargains. THE AUCTION SECTION OF THE PORTAL OFFERS: • Advice to buyers • Auction news • Recommended auctioneers to deal with • Diary of upcoming auctions Contact LEIGH to get your listings visible 074 991 3373 or leigh@property360.co.za

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Profile for ANAPublishing

Property360 - National Digital Magazine - 2 April 2021