Upgrades planned for Johannesburg – including a boost for old mining towns and turning Soweto into its own city

The City of Johannesburg is working on a number of development projects which are aimed at upgrading and transforming the city and its surroundings, says Tembeka Mhlekwa, executive director for Economic Development.

In a virtual roundtable held this week, Mhlekwa said that a key focus will be on the inner-city, with plans drawn up for both transformation and housing opportunities.

“This will build on the opportunities of the CBD as a dense economic core of the city, and tackling issues of fragmented developments, crime, bad buildings and lack of affordable housing.

“The strategy proposes consolidating the inner city through public space/street network and expanding it towards the southern industrial area and the Turffontein Corridor of Freedom,” said Mhlekwa.

As part of the revitalisation programme, the city said it is focused on attracting investment and increasing the supply of affordable, quality housing in the Inner City.

One aspect of this programme is aimed at rehabilitating “bad buildings” through their release to the private sector for conversion into low-cost housing.

The city said it has also programmed the release of government-owned buildings to develop affordable rental housing and temporary emergency accommodation.


Mhlekwa said that the city was also looking for upgrades in and around Soweto, with long-term plans to turn it into its own district city and economic hub.

It envisages diversifying and intensifying Soweto to address its largely residential nature by developing mixed land uses and social services, making use of its good street pattern and public transport network.

“The strategy is to develop Soweto into a series of self-sufficient mixed-use nodes, starting around public transit stations and nodes, as drivers of economic growth and job creation.

“(This will allow) Soweto to function as a liveable city district in its own right with access to jobs and the full array of urban amenities,” she said.

Mining belt

Mhlekwa said that city was also looking to unlock opportunities and development on the old mining belt.

It defines the broader belt beginning in the Randfontein and Merafong area in the west of the province to Ekhurhuleni in the Brakpan area in the east.

In the City of Johannesburg context, the mining belt is divided into the Eastern and Western Mining Belt Corridors, with the eastern corridor bordered by the N3 to the east and the M1 to the west.

Over the decades, the mining belt has transformed from the most economically productive space in the city to one of noteworthy environmental and socioeconomic crisis, it said.

“This presents significant opportunities for development and public open space that could integrate the north with the south of Johannesburg and improve cross-border linkages with Ekurhuleni and the West Rand.

“This will be done by identifying strategic interventions along the belt such as road linkages, mixed-use redevelopments, rehabilitation of degraded and damaged land,” she said.

The move has been welcomed by the private sector, with the old mining belt seen as a key development opportunity.

Andrew Barker, a property developer, said the business sector welcomes the city’s decision to identify developments on and around the old mining belt and they want to be part of those developments.

“The spatial rating areas is key to unlocking the city’s opportunities. The private sector really wants to partner with the city to stimulate the economy,” he said.

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Upgrades planned for Johannesburg – including a boost for old mining towns and turning Soweto into its own city