On 24 November 2017, Gibb Engineering & Architecture – consultants to the City’s Joburg Development Agency- held a public meeting at the Melville Methodist Church to present their draft proposal of the Melville Precinct Plan. More than 100 Melville residents were in attendance.

The structure of the presentation – and the rules governing resident participation – was perceived as being designed to limit input.

The MRA’s EXCO and technical advisors feel strongly that the planning process is inadequate and does not represent the product of earlier public participation. They will be calling for an extension of work to revisit and reflect real participation.

The consultants responsible for the plan were challenged on whether they have conducted sufficient studies to justify the proposed changes, including a review of traffic, noise, sewage and other services in an infrastructure already stretched beyond capacity. They were also asked to provide visualisations of the possible impacts of changed housing densities and heights.

Residents were unequivocal that the plan does not reflect the views expressed by residents during consultations and workshops over the past six months. Claims that the Precinct Plan was developed with a ‘bottom-up community-driven’ approach were rejected.

Some elements of the plan are easy to support as they offer obvious improvements to Melville. One of the contentious issues is the proposed allowance for the densification of housing along Main Road, 4th Avenue, Lothbury and Streatley, as well as the introduction of non-residential uses into these areas. Residents were advised of a proposed ‘spread of retail’, which means more shops in a suburb where existing shops are empty or struggling. There is also a proposed ‘consolidation of erven’ and the introduction of one-way streets.

Moreover, detail and consultation were lacking in several areas. For example, the consultants had failed to meet with the Friends of Melville Koppies, but felt they could make proposals for structures on that site. There was no acknowledgement of Melville’s excellent track record in greening their properties and maintaining the heritage qualities of 7th Street and their housing stock.

The impact of an increased number of people in rezoned, mixed-use buildings, which could include restaurants or clubs, was not quantified and the impact has not been considered in the plan despite it being an ongoing issue that the MRA deals with.

For these reasons, the MRA strongly encourages its constituency to read the draft, to make comments not only in favour or against elements therein, but to note where the information is incomplete or does not appear to reflect the conditions on the ground.

The lengthy hard copy version of the Precinct Plan draft is available at the Melville Library. It is also available online at mymelville.gibb.co.za.  Both invite comments that can be sent to the consultants at mymelville.gibb.co.za

The Melville Residents’ Association requests that copies of your comments be mailed to mra-pp@ilovemelville.co.za by 15 December 2017.