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Transit Corridors and the Private Sector: Incentives, Regulations and the Property Market 01

It is important to understand that the property market is comprised of multiple developers, investors and financiers. Each of these pursue their own development strategies. City planners need to understand the imperatives of each of them and how this applies to the Corridors of Freedom in all its diversity.

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The effective and strategic use of municipal land is one of the most important mechanisms cities can use in order to secure transformation. The ability to purchase, hold and develop land provides municipalities with a lever to pursue its own interests but also to potentially shape the market. City-owned land is an asset in its own right, can be endowed with appealing development rights and can be used to trade in development rights. The ownership of urban land by governments also provides them with greater control over its final use. Rather than simply steering the market, governments can determine development outcomes. Having a proactive and detailed urban land strategy is key for shaping the market.

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The CoJ is using location-based incentives as the primary instrument through which to attract investment. Yet international studies suggest that there are a multitude of factors that determine location choices and these differ for individual investors/firms. Understanding better the factors that determine location choices will assist in directing development to the COF. Developers unanimously agreed that the development application process was an obstacle in the development process. Developers argued for more efficient development applications.

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Good urban management is a priority for developers and community members and the function should be strengthened. Building good neighbourhoods requires good urban management.

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New developers were enthusiastic about the incentives being offered by the CoJ. More established developers were less trusting of the CoJ’s ability to manage the offerings.

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Transit corridors & the private sector

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The provision of appropriate social infrastructure must be a significant intervention in the COF. Specifically, educational facilities are a fundamental component of a good neighbourhood. The City needs to engage more actively with Departments of Education to guarantee that there is the delivery of sufficient educational facilities to support the densities. It would be worth considering incentives to educational facilities prepared to locate to neighbourhoods in the COF. Social exclusion is often ignored in policy frameworks. Creating an inclusive city is the primary motivation for the COF and it is therefore imperative that direct action be taken to guarantee the provision of affordable and emergency housing and to ensure that exclusion is not an unintended consequence of the strategy.

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The COF provides a real opportunity for the CoJ to begin a process of demanding more from property developers in the form of high quality inclusionary housing, affordable housing and the provision of community facilities. The regulatory framework could be strengthened both in terms of its abilities to halt unwanted developments but also in terms of clarifying in more detail obligations for developers benefiting from permissive development rights and incentives. There needs to be further thinking around property developer responsibilities.

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Understanding the frustrations and constraints to development is fundamental to building effective relationships. A directed capacity building programme for CoJ officials is an opportunity to improve relationships.

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An improved marketing approach by the City itself is important. Despite the research and analysis that has gone into the COF to date, many developers, city residents and City officials are not fully aware of what incentives are available or the social infrastructure promised.

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The attractiveness of the COF for mixed-use and housing necessitates that the public environment is safe and accessible for all users. A lack of safety will undermine the positive urban design principles of permeability between the public and private space. Currently too many neighbourhoods in the COF are characterized by poor urban design features that negatively affect safety including public lighting, signage and high quality public space.

Transit corridors & the private sector

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Transit Corridors and the Private Sector: Incentives, Regulations and the Property Market  

Part of the Spatial Transformation through Transit-Oriented Development in Johannesburg research series. Published by the South African Rese...