Summit looks at better use of open spaces

The Re-imagining Mitchells Plain Summit took place on Saturday February 23 at the sub-council office in Lentegeur.

To make Mitchell’s Plain a better and safer place to live, work and play, the open spaces needed to be looked at, with a focus on how they could be used to stimulate sustainable economic growth, and unlock land for recreational purposes and safe spaces, said Michael Jacobs, deputy chairperson of Mitchell’s Plain United Ratepayers’ Association.

“We are aware of the housing problem we have in Mitchell’s Plain. We need to sit around the table with all relevant stakeholders, including all spheres of government on how best we can join hands in making this possible,” said Mr Jacobs.

The Re-imagining Mitchell’s Plain Summit, which took place on Saturday February 23 at the sub-council office in Lentegeur, focused on safety and security, local economic development and land or housing.

Organisers, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) and the Development Action Group (DAG), collaborated to refine resolutions and develop action plans.

Nigel Titus, manager of urban planning and mechanisms and the directorate for spatial planning and environment, shed light on a study he did on land space for Sub-council 12. The aim of the exercise was to look at Sub-council 12 as a pilot project and to ascertain what vacant land was available in the area.

They focused specifically on the parks, the City-owned land and government-owned land.

“We need to look at what has been planned for clinics, houses and schools in terms of land,” said Mr Titus.

A spreadsheet was created to show whether there was too little or too much land – and Mitchell’s Plain came up as having too much land. Mr Titus and his team used a heat map, to indicate access to land and the number of people who have access to it. They also focused on vacant land which was not being utilised, said Mr Titus.

“In the process of land being disposed off, the community can identify land and take it to sub-council meetings for discussion and the way forward,” said Mr Titus. But certain factors, such as government’s future plans for the land and possible restraints such as bio-diversity, had to be taken into consideration.

Mr Titus added that for this kind of land audit to have impact, and be taken forward, it needed a “champion” in the community who would drive the project.

“We can’t tackle issues if there’s no custodian,” said Mr Titus.

Sean Achim, chairperson and chief executive of the Plein Chamber of Commerce, added that it was important to put pressure on officials and councillors, and hold them accountable. “Sometimes councillors have events and projects clashing. How do we ensure that the person who has been elected into office carries out the wishes of the people who elected the person?” he asked.

Crystal West, programme manager of the Development Action Group (DAG), said a plan needed to be drawn up and the correct people involved in the initiative.

Mr Jacobs added that safety and security, local economic development and land or housing groups meet separately with relevant stakeholders to present their plans.