The City of Cape Town plans to revitalise parts of the CBD and announced on Sunday that The Strand Street Concourse will undergo a major refit.

Built in the early 1970’s, the concourse serves as an underground walkway that links Cape Town Station with St George’s Mall and the Golden Acre shopping centre. It sees more than 62 000 pedestrians per day, who make use of the space as an integral thoroughfare to the CBD, rather than a destination.

A foot count conducted during the feasibility stage of the upgrade project revealed that about 33% of pedestrian traffic occurred between the morning peak of 7am and 9am, and 43% in the afternoon peak between 4pm and 6pm.

According to Stuart Diamond, Mayoral Committee Member for Assets and Facilities Management, this indicates that pedestrians make use of the concourse to avoid heavy vehicular traffic. “They are able to move quickly without being hindered by traffic lights to get across the busy intersection”, he said. The concourse also offers protection from inclement weather conditions.

With the incorporation of commercial activities, the management of the concourse became fragmented, as its status gradually shifted to that of an informal mall. This led to the original purpose and functionality as a pedestrian thoroughfare being diminished over time. Eventually, this caused an overall collapse of a cohesive management system for the facility, which ultimately led to a decay of the infrastructure and deterioration of the lease management of commercial activities.

An example of this is the escalators that have been in a state of disrepair for many years and the fact that the concourse could not be closed after hours, which caused this once bustling public space to become a haven for anti-social behaviour.

Now the concourse will once again operate primarily as a walkway, but instead of focusing heavily on commercial activity, the space will be used for municipal purposes. Two municipal courts that are currently located in the City Hall will be rebuilt in the concourse, along with holding cells.”We’ll have some brand new cash offices for people to pay their fines once they have come out of the courts”, says Diamond. The municipal offices will stay open later to accommodate passerby after work. This approach comes off the recommendations of the feasibility study, while a shortage of office space in the Civic Centre resulted in the facility being earmarked for use as municipal office space.

Other upgrades to the space include brand new escalators, brand new shop fronts, tiling, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and construction of a banking court to cater for ATMS of all major banks.  The aim is to essentially create a space that people want to be in, says Diamond.

The project is in its final stages and will cost approximately R2.1 million. The finishing date is estimated as 23 July 2017.


Photography City of Cape Town

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