The concept of New Urbanism has yet to be firmly cemented in the South African consciousness, but there are a few residential estates in Gauteng that are leading the way when it comes to thinking about bridging the distance between people’s workspace and living space – they have commercial hotspots.
With the unprecedented rise in the petrol price in 2013, living expenses and overheads are equally important concerns for employers and employees alike.
A quick recap of New Urbanism
In an attempt to reverse the effects of decentralisation (extensive travelling distances, city slums, and class segregation, etc.), the urban design movement of New Urbanism sees the revival of walking-distance shops, offices, and homes. It promotes the idea of people of all ages, races, and creeds living, working, playing and shopping within walking distance, or at least within a distance that can be covered by viable public transport.
In South Africa, this means building mini-cities within metropolises – one of these being the much-anticipated Waterfall City in Midrand, Gauteng.
Residential, commercial and lifestyle rolled into one
Commercial developers and property managers have identified, explored and executed their stake in New Urbanism, which is why it’s no surprise to see commercial buildings rising up in residential developments. The benefits of this type of layout are bi-directional:
Benefits of commercial hotspots for residents:
- With schools and offices within the same walls, there’s no long trek across Jo’burg to get the kids to school before heading to the office.
- Massive savings on petrol and time, especially if car-pooling with the neighbours or biking to work.
- Reduced stress from easier commuting to work and back; and a more relaxed work environment.
Benefits of commercial hotspots for commercial property owners and managers:
- Establishing an office park in a large residential or lifestyle estate almost guarantees immediate demand for occupation. People want to work close to home.
- If the office tenants feed the industry needs of their immediate surroundings, this ensures long-term tenancy agreements.
- The improved access-control and security of the lifestyle estate also benefits commercial property stakeholders, with reduced crime rates and therefore higher demand for occupation in these areas.
South Africa is looking at a very bright future for commercial property developments that go hand-in-hand with residential or lifestyle “cities”, which may solve congestion and commuting issues in our big cities, while serving the need for a reduced cost of living.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.