Unlocking Bellville as a key nodal area for development
Dan Plato is currently serving as the Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, leading the municipality of one of South Africa’s most prominent cities.
With the efforts of the various departments within the municipality, Cape Town has been awarded numerous accolades. This includes Cape Town International Airport being recognised as Africa’s Leading Airport for the third consecutive year at the 2019 World Travel Awards Africa and Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony held in Mauritius in June 2019.
As the Executive Mayor of CT, Plato plays a pivotal role in ensuring the maintenance of the city and its residents.
Behind the Mayor of the Mother City
Known for his dedication to public service, Plato has made a name for himself in the community.
Before moving into the political scene as a politician, Plato served as the Cape Town Chairperson for the South African National Tuberculosis Association. Throughout his career, Plato has embodied a deep passion for the upliftment of disadvantaged communities
In 1996 Plato made his move into politics as he was elected ward councillor of Belhar, Uitsig and Ravensmead. In over eight years of dedication to the community, Plato has proved that he is focused on social upliftment and poverty alleviation.
In the 2000s, Plato was the Chairperson of the City of Cape Town’s (COCT) Economic Development, Tourism and Property Management Portfolio Committee.
For a period of three years, from 2006 to 2009, Plato served as the Mayoral Committee Member for Housing. Although Plato currently holds the position of Executive Mayor, this is not his first Mayoral role. He took over from Helen Zille as Mayor in 2009 after she became Western Cape Premier. Having played a key role in the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa, Plato’s and the COCT’s efforts were recognised, when the Department of Cooperative Governance nominated Cape Town as the ‘best-run city in South Africa’.
Part of the community
Placing the communities needs above his own, Plato has attempted to change the dynamic of existing ‘rural’ communities. In particular, gang violence plagues Cape Town. It spills over into other communities and poses harm to other residents. As the provincial Minister of Community Safety in the Western Cape Government, Plato met with rival gang bosses during his first term as Provincial Minister to broker peace between them in the community, in efforts to bring about positive change.
Throughout his political career, Plato has shown a strong focus on pressing issues, from addressing the problems in drug-ridden communities to leading campaigns, such as ‘Keep Cape Town Clean’ to rid the communities of rubbish and waste. Other programs that he has implemented include the renowned, ‘Walking Bus’ programme, which ensures the safety of school children in communities where violence is an every-day fact of life.
Spotlight on Bellville
In recent times, Bellville has come into the investor spotlight as an area that holds much potential for development in terms of property but also in building an integrated urban landscape. We asked the Mayor about the City of Cape Town’s Urban Catalytic Projects and their impact on the Bellville area.
Bellville is described as the second metropolitan node in Cape Town. Despite the potential as a catalytic site within Cape Town, the Bellville central business district (CBD) is currently underperforming in comparison to other business nodes. The areas of specific concern include commercial value, street-front retail, building completions, office rentals and vacancies. This underperformance is of particular concern as the retail and industrial sectors are the traditional strongholds of the Bellville economy.
“Bellville’s strategic location within the metro shows that it has the potential to become an accessible precinct, which could increase residents’ social and physical mobility. Given the current social disparities within the area, Bellville could contribute significantly to the City’s spatial transformation priorities and the aim to address the legacy of apartheid spatial planning,” said Plato.
The aim is to give effect to spatial transformation through investment in public infrastructure (such as public transport) that supports mixed-use, high-density development, modelled around a significant transit station. In order to address the challenges faced, the development objectives are to facilitate:
· Delivery of mixed-use integrated development;
· Creation of employment opportunities;
· Delivery of affordable, mixed-income housing opportunities;
· Private investment opportunities to support economic growth; and
· Connectivity through investment in integrated public transport services.
“It will take a concerted effort from all stakeholders – from the City, to other spheres of government, the private sector, business, community organisations and residents – to realise the vision as set out above. How we work together and cooperate will have a profound impact on the timelines for the regeneration of Bellville going forward,” said Plato.
On asking why property investors and managers should turn their interest to Bellville, Mayor Plato returned to the important idea of Bellville as the second metropolitan node in Cape Town. “As Bellville is one of the priority areas for the City it would be in private investors’ interest to take advantage of this.
Given its location, the Cape Town central business district has very limited space for further expansion, if at all. Bellville is the obvious next CBD where investment should happen, and where there is ample space for new developments. It is for the private sector to see this potential and to assist us in developing Bellville to its full potential.