What Counts Are Residents’ Opinions

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

A set of interesting results of a recent opinion analysis of Cape Town city residents is set to serve as a useful tool toward further improving inner city living.

The ‘dipstick survey’ is the first of its kind conducted by the Cape Town Central Improvement District of Cape Town (CCID), among a small proportion of 220 of the city’s 5000 residents, as estimated in the latest SA Census. The CCID is a private-public partnership which provides complementary urban management services to certain parts of the inner city, and needs little introduction when it comes to making the city more user friendly.

By revealing their likes, needs and preferences as it relates to inner city living, residents answered questions about public transport, safety, entertainment, retail, cleanliness, and public open spaces.

Researcher Andrew Fleming, who compiled the survey, says: “It helps us to understand how the CCID can better match its services to the needs of residents, to best live up to its motto of ‘safe, clean and caring.’ He refers to this process, as a two-way conversation to ensure long-term engagement.

Confidence in the urban lifestyle of the CBD is evident in the number of years some residents have already spent living in the city, as well as the length of time the same people anticipate spending there in the future. Others emphasized the city ‘vibe’ which is not only unique to Cape Town, but plays an important role in promoting the city as a lifestyle and tourist destination.

Transport related questions revealed a large number of commuters who use cars for short travelling distances, which was a surprise element in the survey says Fleming. “However, as MyCiTi public transport system rolls out further, and the CBD incorporates more non-motorised transport options, such as bicycle lanes and pedestrian corridors, it will be interesting to see whether the number of local drivers drops over the years.” Although only 9% of residents use MyCiTi to get to work, 30% of all respondents indicated use of this service in one way or another.

The survey also revealed fluidity of movement through the CBD. Fleming said:“Residents clearly knit the city together; they’ll shop in one part of town, work in another and then go to restaurants situated throughout the area. To residents, the CBD is more about a vibe, as opposed to a bounded space.”

Public open areas, such as The Company’s Garden, as well as pedestrian thoroughfares such as St George’s Mall between Strand and Whale Streets with good retail facilities, show the highest pedestrian footfall.

While the opinions of residents, some who are property owners and others tenants, is a highly valued commodity, business operators also continue to benefit from any number of improvements in the city.

A recent ‘business friendly’ city initiative materialised when the international practice of the use of outdoor signs to display the numbers of buildings, which also correlates with the area’s Geographic Information System (GIS) map, was introduced.

Cape Town is the first South African city to include building numbers on the same signs as street names.

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