City to Grow Northwards

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The City of Windhoek is projected to expand northwards towards Brakwater and neighbouring Okahandja in less than 10 years due to scarcity of residential land. Rapid growth, urbanisation, and a swelling population presently standing at 233 529, as well as a general scarcity of land have necessitated this projection. Town planning experts at the City of Windhoek say there is a growing need to stimulate residential space north of the city, as the other areas especially the ones in the south are too mountainous and costly to develop. Looking at the topography area of Windhoek, it becomes obvious the city is built in a basin surrounded by mountains particularly in the south, east and west. “We have to think beyond the basin, like north of Brakwater, that will be the area to develop by the time the city runs out of land inside the basin area,” municipal town planner Braam Harris said in a recent interview with New Era. The City of Windhoek is expected to run out of residential land by 2015. However, its spokeswoman Liz Sibindi stated earlier that even though “the planned single residential erven would be exhausted in nine years’ time, there would still be open pockets of land and hills available. Hilly residential areas are the ones around Kleine Kuppe and Avis, where land is pricey due to the mountainous landscape. “Currently, we cannot develop on the hills, because the current technology at hand is not allowing us to develop higher than the level of the water reservoirs. But after 2015, we will have technology at hand to allow us to develop on the hills. This will give scope to the year 2020,” explained Sibindi. Due to the high demand, the availability of land has always been a growing challenge for the City of Windhoek over the years. It is against this background that the municipality has been looking at the densification of the city’s landscape in nine years’ time through its “Strategic City Development Plan”. Like other cities, Windhoek is expected to become a more industrialised business hub in the next decade with the mushrooming of flat-like apartments and town houses compared to the current single residential plots. Town planners call this the “Densification Process”, where every available land space will be filled up productively, before consideration is made to expand northwards. That is why according to Sibindi, densification is the only way to go after 2020. “The main economic factor that drives densification is when the cost of the land is higher than the cost of the building on it. Then, the building should be demolished to give way to a new one,” said Sibindi. In addition, one of the advantages of densification is that services such as public transport become profitable to operate, leading to lesser motor vehicle use and less air pollution prevalent in densified urban cities. Fears are also being allayed by planners who say that the city will not run out of land space any time soon, since development will remain in the Windhoek Basin. “The only limiting factor is water but with more town houses and flats, there won’t be space for lawns to be watered and if the water becomes scarce, the price will go higher and everyone will only use that quantity that is needed. The answer is technology,” added Sibindi. In the meantime, the City of Windhoek is planning to buy private land in the Brakwater area for residential plots as well as business and industrial sites. The once semi-farmland area is gradually being developed into an upmarket area. Plots are already costly and some ministers and former judges own a few. Yet for now, the City of Windhoek’s drive to develop land space north of the city in the Brakwater area will go only up until the traffic control checkpoint, which falls under the city’s jurisdiction.